The mythical March 23rd

The future Mrs Watson and I had the first scan of our child last week and so we got given a due date…March 22nd, 2017.

I couldn’t decide whether I was excited or slightly disappointed. I was hoping for March 23rd. In fact I said to my wonderful life partner, “You’ll just have to cross your legs for an extra day. It’s quite big, how hard can it be?” I’m not sure that you will need to know my better half to work out what kind of response that got…

Why March 23rd? I hear none of you asking. Well, I think quite a few of you sports fans will already know the answer. Basically, if you want to be an Olympian, or more specifically the greatest British Olympian there has ever been, then you need to be born on March 23rd. The evidence for this is quite compelling, allow me to simply present the list of our greatest Olympians by medals won:

  • Sir Chris Hoy – Cycling – 6 gold, 1 silver – Born March 23rd, 1976
  • Jason Kenny – Cycling – 6 gold, 1 silver – Born March 23rd, 1988
  • Sir Bradley Wiggins – Cycling – 5 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze – Born April 28th, 1980
  • Sir Steve Redgrave – Rowing – 5 gold, 1 bronze – Born March 23rd, 1962
  • Sir Ben Ainslie – Sailing – 4 gold, 1 silver – Born February 5th, 1977
  • Mo Farah – Athletics – 4 gold – Born March 23rd, 1983
  • Sir Matthew Pinsent – Rowing – 4 gold – Born October 10th, 1970

Yep. That’s pretty weird, right? What more evidence do you need? More? Ok then. Add to the list Sir Roger Bannister (4 minute mile breaker), Joe Calzaghe (unbeaten boxing champion), Michael Atherton (England cricket captain) and Shelley Rudman (Skeleton world champion and Olympic silver medallist), all born on March 23rd.

Now believe me I am more than aware that it takes more than being born on a particular date to become a top class sportsperson, otherwise the entire list would be populated with March 23rd birthdays and nobody else would even bother, but still it’s quite an interesting quirk that has developed.

Mathematically speaking (as a former Maths teacher) maybe it’s actually not that freakish though. There is a well known probability problem known as “the birthday paradox” which finds that mathematically you only need to gather together a group of 23 people for the likelihood of 2 people having the same birthday to be even or 50/50 if you prefer.  Interestingly it only takes a group of 75 people for the probability to reach 99.9%.

Without running the numbers on the entire history of Great British teams and their birthdays (I do have a life to live) I wouldn’t know the percentage representation but needless to say, I’d quite like my mini-Watson to be born on this date, why take chances?? So, in other words, I’m (sorry darling, I meant “we’re”) getting this baby out on 23rd March 2017!

In other news, I have pretty much decided on the general order that I am going to take this challenge in. I don’t want to start with the more boring sports that I do on a semi-regular basis already (football, tennis, badminton, golf) though they will still need to be ticked off at some point. Neither am I insane enough to start with something like a triathlon, so I’ve settled on a group of sports that should be interesting, entertaining but also achievable.

In the next couple of weeks I am going to be making contact with weightlifting, wrestling and canoe slalom clubs in the area to organise my first forays into the Tokyo Olympic Sports. I will be sure to let you know when something is set in stone!



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