Thursday, 15th November 2018 @ 18:00
Fergus Crawley talks about his battle with mental health and his Guinness World Record attempt to raise money for the Harlequins Foundation and Movember Foundation.
On December 12th, his 23rd birthday, Fergus Crawley will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most weight squatted in 24 hours. The target is 460,000kg (equivalent to over 11 Boeing 737’s) and he will aim to complete 7,666 squats at 60kg to get there.
This immense physical challenge, however, doesn’t seem to phase the young man too much: “In terms of the physical side of things, I can go through pain quite well – I’ve always been good at that. I can push myself beyond limits, and I’ve got enough of an ego when it comes to this sort of thing so if it came to failing in front of someone, I’ll stop thinking about quitting”.
“In those dark moments when its 04:00 and people are coming home from nights out and I’m sitting there with false enthusiasm, that’s when it’ll be really hard. Overall though I’m in about as good a place as I can be.”
The reason behind Fergus’ undertaking, however, goes far deeper than just physical pain. Just over a year and a half ago, after battling in silence with mental health issues, Fergus attempted suicide: “I left school in such a great place”, said Crawley, “but it just couldn’t be translated onto next stage.
“I was dealt a tough hand university – I wasn’t in a team sport, and I was in a college where I wasn’t surrounded by likeminded people – so it put me in an isolated position. That was then compounded for over a year and a half because I didn’t say a word about it, and then I ended up trying to take my own life”.
After the attempt, Fergus struggled to open up to those closest to him: “I couldn’t open up straight away. I bought a dog, and I spoke to him about it, and eventually I got the confidence to speak to my family. My friends only found out a couple of months ago.”
In powerlifting, however, Fergus has found refuge: “Lifting began as a coping mechanism to help with the pain of it all, but then it gave me a drive and a focus. It ended up being the main component of my day– I travelled out of Newcastle where I lived to train and spent a number of hours in the gym. It was the only reason to get out of bed in the morning but soon it manifested itself as a huge part of my life – I was able to push the whole world away”.
Having now recovered, Crawley is now intent on working with others, and recently spent some time down with the Harlequins squad speaking to the players about his story.
“The biggest difference in being down with the players is that these are people who are widely viewed as being “hard as nails”, but after listening to Joe (Marler) and the situation he is at with his career I almost felt more comfortable talking with them. These were huge men with a wealth of experience in this area.”
“Sitting with Bish (Adam Bishop) who’s 140 kg and the eleventh strongest bloke in the world, and not being in any way vilified by what I had to say was incredibly positive. This was the “manliest” environment I could have been in, but I was so happy to talk to them. I’ve respected both of those guys for years, especially Joe, but I had no idea what an effect 2016 had on him behind the scenes”.
It is these “traditional” notions of masculinity that Crawley is most intent on questioning: “This campaign challenges definitions of what it means to be a real bloke, and that’s also what I’m trying to do. It’s almost about being a little bit anti-establishment, in the sense that I want to erode some of the more traditional values whilst also encouraging some newer ones.”
“The central component for me is being responsible, for yourself and those around you and those that care about you.”
Fergus will be attending our Gallagher Premiership Round 7 match against Newcastle Falcons tomorrow as part of our Movember takeover, and will be speaking about his incredible journey in the South West Corner before kick-off. He will also be carrying out a squatting challenge on the pitch at half-time.
To support Fergus in his “24 Hours of Power”, head to https://mobro.co/ferguscrawley.