Give him a big hand! Radio presenter completes a year of handstands
After 364 handstands in 2019, Jeff Ayliffe knew there was only one place to complete his Handstand365 project.
“I did what I’ve done so often in my life. I returned, alone, to the source. The place it all began,” the 57-year-old radio sports presenter said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.
This was in the middle of a river alongside the Seven Passes Road in Wilderness, in the Western Cape, where his GoPro captured his one-handed handstand.
“I drove to the exact spot on the river,” Ayliffe said. “I wandered down in light rain, and sat on the exact rocks, and just thought about the year, and what it had meant.
“I remembered the highs, the near misses, the growth. I placed myself under no pressure to even take a picture. But the simple act of returning to the source felt right.”
Since January 1, Ayliffe has done handstands on the Table Mountain cable car, in a shop window, on a surfboard, on a plane at 35,000ft and even next to Cape Town’s Noon Gun as it fired.
Thousands of people have seen him upside-down, tens of thousands more have seen the photographs, but on Tuesday there was no one watching.
“I started the GoPro, shooting images on auto. I felt, to use the words from Bob Seger, ‘Like a rock’. It’s a cliché, but it felt as if the entire year had guided me to this moment,” said Ayliffe.
“Slowly transferring weight over to my right arm, with my mind focused on 365 days of constant conditioning and beautiful lightness, I slowly raised my left arm, not to 90 degrees, but up, and alongside my body. I held it for the image. And I was steady. ‘Like a rock.'”
Ayliffe told the Sunday Times in December he had been doing handstands since joining a gymnastics club in Pietermaritzburg at the age of six.
“There’s something about the act of balancing on my hands that I enjoy. I love the feeling of being in control when you hit a handstand’s sweet spot,” he said.
Now the handstands are done, the work continues. Ayliffe hopes to publish the images in a book and will donate the proceeds to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.
“This has taught me that with the support and encouragement of friends, nothing is impossible. The personal messages and the comments provided the catalyst that drove me every day to keep pushing my own limits,” he said.
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