By Cathy Wood

Sarah_WincklessDecember 17 - Sarah Winckless (pictured), the Olympic rowing medallist and chair of the recently formed British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes' Commission, has reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain, with brother Charlie to raise awareness of Huntington's.

Winckless, 37, who won bronze in Athens in 2004 with doubles partner Elise Laverick, has known for 14 years she is positive for the disease which gradually destroys coordination, speech and movement.

The climb up Kilimanjaro, which ended early yesterday morning, was to raise awareness of Huntington's and to show how the disease is no barrier to achievement.

"I have always loved the idea of going up a mountain," said Winckless.

"For 10 years I was focused on one goal.

"I am loving the variety in my life but I need goals!

"Charlie and I summitted this morning.

"Brilliant - but pretty tough."

Winckless and her brother, who grew up in Kingston, Surrey, knew something was seriously wrong with their mother, Val, as she would slur speech, stumble as she walked and drive erratically.

Neither of the children understood why.

In 1996, after Val agreed to tests, the disease was discovered.

Devastatingly, each of Val's four children had a 50:50 chance of inheriting Huntington's which, so far, has no known cure, although new drugs are believed to halt its progression.

At the time Winckless, then 23 and studying at Cambridge University, decided she would take the test.

After a six month wait she discovered she too had the gene.

Charlie, 38, who waited until 2008 to take the test, is negative.

"It is not something I feel has had a negative influence on my life," Winckless told insidethegames.

"It would be easy to put all my energy into looking how to fix it but I am doing so many things and enjoying life so much," she added.

Winckless enjoyed more than a decade at the very top, including two world titles in 2005 and 2006, before retiring to pursue other challenges.

One was to become chair of the BOA's Athletes' Commission, a job she took up earlier this year.

Winckless and her brother are asking people to tell five friends about Huntington's and, if they wish, to donate no more than £5 click here