Kevin Sinfield on powerful moment that captured the hearts of the nation

Rob Burrow's physical decline shown in emotional BBC montage

The moment that captured the hearts of the nation – when Kevin Sinfield carried Rob Burrow over the finish line of Leeds Marathon – was planned, with Rob admitting he was desperate to complete a challenge at the same time as his friend.

Former rugby league great Rob, 40, who has battled motor neurone disease since 2019, has watched his former team-mate complete three epic feats for MND in Rob’s name.

Kevin, 42, who is the defence coach of the England rugby union team, has raised more than £8million for MND charities since his former Leeds Rhino mate was diagnosed with the terminal condition that leaves sufferers trapped in failing bodies.

Last Sunday, he pushed Rob around the 26.2-mile course in a specially adapted chair, joining 15,000 other runners in raising more than £4million for 35 charities, including £825,000 towards a state-of-the-art MND centre in Leeds.

In an image that melted hearts, Kevin stopped before the finish line, lifted his friend out of the chair and carried him over. He then gave him a kiss to mark the moment.

Father-of-three Rob said: “Myself and Kevin talked about crossing the line together beforehand.

“Kevin had to lift me up a few times as we were going round so we had got into quite a good routine by the time we arrived at the stadium.

“I have been watching Kevin complete his amazing challenges over the past few years and it meant so much to cross the line with him.”

Kevin, whose autobiog­raphy The Extra Mile is published on Thursday, added: “Rob and I had spoken about crossing the line together and that’s where the idea came from.”

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After the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon, Rob joked that Kevin had whispered before lifting him: “You’re not going to beat me, Rob, we’re finishing together.”

Since his friend was diagnosed with MND, Kevin has completed the Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge last November, when he ran seven back-to-back ultra-marathons – around 40 miles each day.

He also ran seven marathons in seven days in 2020 and followed it up by completing 101 miles in 24 hours in 2021.

Rob’s wife Lindsey, 40, an NHS physiotherapist, raised more than £90,000 for the MND centre in Leeds by running the marathon. She said: “What’s incredible about Rob is that he never complains. He’s the tower of strength for the whole family.”

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