TWO firefighters at the Stockhill station, which covers Hucknall and Bulwell, are ablaze with enthusiasm as they look forward to the journey of a lifetime.
Matt Willis and Nick Cousins, together with watch manager Kevin Ruane, a trainer at the Service Development Centre in Ollerton, are travelling to Australia to take part in the World Firefighter Games (WFG).
The trio will represent Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service at a range of events during the nine-day Olympic-style competition in Sydney.
Swimmer Matt (30) is the current national Fire Service 100m individual medley champion. He will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke events.
While this will be the first time he has taken part in the WFG, he has been swimming for his club and county for the last 20 years.
Nick (32), a former triathlete and marathon runner, has recently returned to competitive sport after a knee injury and has been training for the WFG since January.
He will take part in the road race and time trial events.
Kevin (47) has a long association with the WFG, having been involved in the organisation and marketing of the Games in the UK, Hong Kong and South Korea.
He will be pushing himself to the limit in the Toughest Firefighter Alive (TFA) event for the 45-50 years category, having finished seventh in his age group in the TFA European champion ships in Germany in June. He will also be competing in the tug-of-war, dragon boat race and fire truck challenge.
All three are excited by the prospect of a trip Down Under with their families. They agree that while it would be nice to do well in the WFG, it is a chance to get involved in such a prestigious event and soak up the atmosphere they are looking foward to the most.
Matt said: “It is where it is that makes it so special. I have always wanted to go to Australia and this is a great reason to be there. I will be able to test myself and see where I am on the world level.”
Nick, a former marathon runner of under three hours, said: “I went to the London Olympics as a spectator and the atmosphere was amazing. The WFG is our version of the Olympics.”