5 January 2009
FIREMEN ARE often the target of female attention. A uniform combined with dashing heroism always seems to do it, writes Naomi Christie...
But there is one Southwark firefighter who may be leading the way in the fit stakes - he is a former Olympian!
Phil Goedluck, who works at Southwark Fire Station, was part of the bobsleigh team in the 2002 Winter Olympics in the US.
Not one to be saddled with a particular discipline, Phil also went to Canada and won the 400m relay bronze for England in the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
Originally Phil, 41, trained as a sprinter, but his career took a sharp turn. "A friend of mine was in the bobsleigh team. We were speaking and he said: 'Look, Phil you’re quite big, you're quite strong - why don't you come along?' I then spent six seasons in the UK bobsleigh team."
But his current career means those days are in the past: "Much as I love cruising around the Alps, my responsibilities at work mean that I can't do it anymore."
Phil, who now lives in Merton, first joined the fire service in 1987 and has been based in Southwark throughout his career. "My friend thought that I had the physical and mental attributes to become a firefighter. Plus the brigade were supportive of sporting people within their employment.”
But signing up to the job did not mean his days of adventure were behind him.
During his fire service career Phil was on hand during the Purley rail crash and the Marchioness disaster. During the Brixton riots in the early nineties he had to put out fires, whilst having objects and abuse hurled at him by members of the public.
There have also been light-hearted experiences, including when he was once called out to try to catch escaped monkeys from Battersea Park Zoo.
And what do his work colleagues think of his momentous past? He said: "I like to think I am quite modest. The fire-service celebrate my sporting achievements more than I do. I was over the moon when I won the bronze medal for England. Having said that, I haven't seen the medal around the house since I started getting this loft conversion. Lord knows where I put it."
Phil, who has two children, Aaron, ten, and Lakeisha, sixteen, was recently given a medal for long service and good conduct from London Fire Brigade (pictured above). He said: "For me it is a momentous occasion, having reached 20 years in the service, it's a bench mark."
Talking of the changes in Southwark he has seen in his career, Phil said: "As an area it's come on a long way. Building work has transformed the area. It's become quite a cosmopolitan little city on its own. You don't always realise what London has to offer. I think Southwark is great."
And what would he introduce as the new sport for the London 2012 Olympics? "I wouldn't mind seeing skateboarding," said Phil. "We went to Stockwell Bowl recently and there was really everyone there. There were little three-year-old kids being taught by their fathers and mothers up to a guy I know is 50 on his skateboard. I'd like to see a Great Britain football team at the Olympics too, men's and women's."
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