If you live in west London and ordered a hundred items off Amazon during the pandemic, there’s every chance a future Olympian was on your doorstep last year.
Dan Bramble, Britain’s former long jump champion, has a story like no other ahead of this summer’s delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Seemingly a dead cert to represent Team GB at Rio 2016, he missed the qualification mark by a centimetre and then sustained an injury before the British Championships and Olympic trials, where a top-two finish would’ve done enough.
To put that disappointment into context, Bramble jumped 8.21m in 2015, putting him fifth on the all-time British list, and only needed to reach 8.15m at any point in 2016 to qualify.
Meanwhile, he has finished inside the top two at the British Championships in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 – when he won it – 2018 and 2019. But not 2016.
Despite his clear potential and heartbreaking misfortune, British Athletics cut his funding at the end of 2017, losing him between £7,000 and £9,000 of income, as well as all the other perks which help athletes focus on training.
“It’s quite a cut-throat industry,” he told talkSPORT 2. “It’s not like golf, football or tennis where you have a few good performances and then sponsors want to keep hold of you. It is very based on statistics, age and health.
“All those factors come into play and if you have one bad year, you’re not performing on paper and they let you go.”
Then the pandemic struck, leaving Bramble with no prize money to win and no idea what he was training for.
So he moved back in with his parents in Ruislip, started delivering for Amazon and set up a GoFundMe page.
“It was hard,” he added. “The first month (of the pandemic) I thought it would be fine, and then the reality kicked in of what I was doing and what I needed to do. The two weren’t correlating.
“So I took some time off to ease off the gas a lit bit, because there was so much uncertainty, it was hard to train without having a solid goal in place.
“I looked elsewhere and saw a job working for Amazon. I thought, ‘You know what? This is the new norm, I can’t keep training for something that’s not happening’.
“Money is what gets me to where I need to be so I needed to change my focus. And that’s what I picked up.”
Not only did the job strengthen his character (and his back), it also led to a game-changing donation from GymShark, which has put his Olympic dream back on track.
With his GoFundMe page sat on around £3,000, well shy of his £12,000 target, the fitness company sent him nearly £9,000 after being inspired by a tweet which illustrated his story.
And Bramble reveals it was a tweet which he very nearly decided against posting due to pride.
He added: “Being an athlete, especially track and field, we want to be in charge of our own destiny and I didn’t want to ask for help because I wanted to think I could do it myself.
“It was more of a pride thing. But I put my pride to the side to see what happened. And I’ve been grateful I did ever since.”
Aged 30, Bramble needs to jump 8.21m at some point between now and the summer in order to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Having moved back up to Loughborough and training full-time thanks to his online appeal, he now has a fighting chance of making his dream come true.