This year's British Victoria Sporting Club International Award for Valour in Sport has gone to Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura for his single-handed struggle to become the first man to reach the North Pole alone.
GV Arctic scenes. (4 SHOTS)
TRAVEL SHOT Dogs pulling sled.
CU Naomi Uemura
SV Uemura breaking ice boulders.
CU Dog looking into Uemura's tent.
GV Uemura feeding dogs.
SV Uemura trying to pull dog out of crevasse.
SV Dogs at sunset.
SV Uemura checking that Polar bear is dead (3 SHOTS)
TRAVEL SHOT Dog pulling sled. (2 SHOTS)
GV Uemura pulling up flags at North Pole.
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Background: This year's British Victoria Sporting Club International Award for Valour in Sport has gone to Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura for his single-handed struggle to become the first man to reach the North Pole alone.
SYNOPSIS: Naomi Uemura won his award in a land where there is little sport. In fact it's not quite correct to describe the location of Uemura's expedition as 'land' -- for much of his journey to the North Pole took the thirty-seven-year-old adventurer across not only Greenland -- but also the frozen Arctic Sea.
Uemura's helpers on his five hundred-mile trip were the dogs that pulled his sled.
The only sound he heard was the weather.
The expedition left Cape Columbia in the Canadian Arctic in March. Uemura had to take dogs that had never worked as a team before.
His problems began when the stronger dogs attacked the rest.
Then one of the dogs became pregnant, but somehow Uemura transformed the pack into a good team.
Uemura lost one of his best dogs when it fell down a break in the ice. He tried hard to pull it out, but failed. Even after climbing Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Everest and many other peaks Uemura found this trip his toughest.
Uemura found sailing single-handed on a raft down Amazon River in South America and eating piranhas less daunting than the Arctic. Here his major danger was Polar bears. He was attacked twice, one bear eating all his food and destroying his tent. Later in the expedition Uemura trained the dogs to warn his when a bear approached, instead of running off. This gave him a chance to get out his rifle. Of course the weather also endangered his life. Blizzards made progress slow and once he was trapped on a breakaway ice-flow and had to wait, hoping it would rejoin the main stream. Uemura lost weight quickly and became weaker. The dogs suffered badly cut feat from the constant running of ice, but Uemura was determined to finish the journey. A bleeper on his clothing enabled Uemura's progress to be charted in Washington via satellite.
In May, after fifty-seven days, Uemura reached the North Pole. For his bravery on that epic trip, Naomi Uemura received the Valour in Sport award at London's Guildhall on Thursday (22 February).