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 Breakfast with Frost
Andrew Cooney
Andrew Cooney
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: ANDREW COONEY JANUARY 12TH, 2003

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: He walked 700 miles in 53 days across ice and snow in temperatures as low as minus 52 degrees centigrade. He suffered from altitude sickness as most of his journey was at more than 9000 feet above sea level. He injured his shoulder but still had to pull a sleigh, weighing 200lbs, for the entire journey. All this and he's only 23 years old - Andrew Cooney. He's the youngest person ever to have walked to the South Pole. He only got back on Friday and he's about to walk into this studio, which is some simpler act of heroism, there he is, welcome.

ANDREW COONEY: Thank you Sir David.

DAVID FROST: What was it that triggered off this unusual ambition in your life, Andrew?

ANDREW COONEY: Well I guess it's a lot of support from my family and my upbringing - I spent a lot of time in the Scouts and later at university I joined the Territorial Army, so we're very active in the outdoors and enjoyed it. I've also got some friends who've been out and done other adventurous activities and when I finished university I thought "I want to go and do something big." You know, try, try a really hard challenge. And when I started researching and looking into various things, the South Pole kept coming to mind and I looked at the world records and then to become the youngest person to walk there, I thought that would be a, a real ambition a real goal to go for.

DAVID FROST: And poor chap, poor chap did it five days before you - he was the youngest for five days, wasn't he?

ANDREW COONEY: Yeah, a fantastic achievement. Anyone who gets there, I mean it's just incredible. All credit to everyone.

DAVID FROST: Yes. And what was the toughest part of it? I mean was it your shoulder injury or - ?

ANDREW COONEY: Yes, probably when I, the day I fell over and injured my shoulder, that was a very bad day for me. After that, you know, I had the mental attitude I have to get there, there's no way I'm not going to get there, and so it was just your head down and get on with it.

DAVID FROST: And in fact how do you train for something like this, apart from last week we don't have enough snow to help you train here, do we? Did you go to artificial slopes or what?

ANDREW COONEY: Well I've done three sorts of training. The first one, I went to the Arctic last winter off my own back, set up a, a guide out there to go out and learn how to live in those conditions. Secondly, my fitness. At home I've got a lorry tyre I've been dragging round the local fields in preparation for dragging the sledge around. And thirdly the mental preparation, which I think has been over several years. I had a lot of support from the TA with that when I went to Sandhurst and got commissioned, and that really psychologically helped me.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of an expedition like this, you've got almost 24 hour lightness, haven't you in fact down there?

ANDREW COONEY: It was 24 hours, yes.

DAVID FROST: And does that and the, and the mission, mean you get more or less sleep? Less sleep, presumably.

ANDREW COONEY: Well the light, at times, was awkward to sleep in but we were working so hard during the day when we actually got in in the evenings we were ready to sleep and we had some very good sleep most nights.

DAVID FROST: And you had, did you set up a night camp every time or what? How did you sleep?

ANDREW COONEY: Well it was 24 hours daylight so we were working very strictly to a time schedule. We'd get up in the morning, have our breakfast, start walking at nine; do seven and a half to nine hours walking every day - it extended out if the conditions were good and we were making good progress; put up camp, have our evening meal and go to bed. And that was the same routine for the whole 53 days.

DAVID FROST: And during the ... did you have any hot food, or was it all Weetabix?

ANDREW COONEY: Yeah, the food was, the evening meals were hot and they were dehydrated meals, pre-prepared to just add boiling water. The rest of the food was usually cold.

DAVID FROST: And now, what's the next mission?

ANDREW COONEY: The next big plan I'd like to do is get out into schools, working with youth organisations, young people, actually share my experiences and say to young people look, you know, you don't have to go to the South Pole but with a bit of self-motivation and discipline and, you know, if you have a goal and an aim you can achieve anything you want to do.

DAVID FROST: Great message. A great message. Andrew, congratulations, thank you very much indeed.

INTERVIEW ENDS


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