Badminton champ lives on £5-a-week in charity bid

Badminton player Paul Van Rietvelde. Picture: contributed
Badminton player Paul Van Rietvelde. Picture: contributed
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BADMINTON champ Paul Van Rietvelde is a calorie-guzzling sportsman keen to make his mark on this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

So, a challenge that has him spending less than a pound a day to meet ALL his dietary requirements is proving difficult for this self-confessed “big eater”.

However, the Scottish national champion is not on a fad diet, he is taking part in a charity challenge that is proving a drain on his intense three-times-a-day training sessions.

The Longniddry 22-year-old, who fears a longing for a daily 15p Chomp bar could be his undoing, said: “It’s definitely difficult – I did not realise it would be difficult to work out what you need.”

The athlete is surviving on the likes of porridge, baked beans and pitta breads to make sure he comes under his week’s £5 shopping budget.

Other items on the menu include rice, bananas and mushy peas while his only indulgence has been a 26p packet of custard creams.

The star, who was also part of Team GB in the last Olympics, has already raised more than £300 for ActionAid, a charity dedicated to ending the extreme poverty that kills 28 children every minute of every day. And the food lover, who has spent time working in soup kitchens, said he was already struggling to beat the hunger pangs.

“In my position I’m very fortunate in what I do so it’s nice to get a reality check every so often,” he explained.

Paul hopes his trustworthy custard creams will keep his morale high and has been eking out bananas to help meet the rigours of his training regime. Most men need around 2500 calories a day, and during training Paul normally eats a diet packed full of nutrients, his team being fed with fresh and high-quality food including lots of fruit and vegetables in abundant supply.

And, while Paul admits he never adds up the calories he eats, he admits his intake is likely to be far higher given his busy physical schedule.

“The concern is not about being undernourished, it’s more about being malnourished – we could live on a bag of rice every day but we would not be getting the essential nutrients,” he added. “I eat quite a lot and I have never kept track of calories like most athletes do but I am just trying to play it by ear.”

The big eater also joked that his family did not believe him when he first told them about the challenge but were now backing him all the way. He continued: “I love all food – I literally go into restaurants and ask them to bring me whatever and that’s why I feel the restrictions of being on a budget but I have tried not to think about it too much and keep my mind busy.”

Emma Conroy, of Edinburgh Nutrition, said Paul’s main problem taking part in the challenge was “the lack of nutrients rather than any lack of calories”.

“Some very high calorie foods are very cheap – sugar and vegetable oil for example,” she explained. “For an athlete, this issue is even more important. Physical activity uses up not just more calories, but more vitamin and minerals, too.”

However, Paul said raising awareness of the issue was key and that the extra incentive was the fact that the UK government will be matching all funds raised as part of the She Can appeal, which is helping women and girls to escape poverty.

If you would like to donate search for “Paul Van Rietvelde” on


IT wasn’t just Paul’s badminton skills he had to practise this week as a trip to shops involved a mental arithmetic nightmare to get the most out of his £5 budget. Here’s what was on his shopping list.

Blackcurrant squash (42p)

Pitta bread (22p)

Mushy peas (16p)

Gravy granules (20p)

Pineapple pieces (36p)

Bananas (68p)

Custard creams (26p)

Rice (40p)

Kidney beans (25p)

Two tins of baked beans (48p)

Mixed vegetables (89p)

Plummed tomatoes (29p)

Porridge (39p)