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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Hemery praises five-times Olympian
Chris Maddocks, Sydney 2000
Thousands cheered Chris Maddocks at Sydney
Olympic legend David Hemery has paid tribute to retiring walker Chris Maddocks, one of the heroes of the Sydney games.

Mr Maddocks received an extraordinary ovation from more than 100,000 spectators at his fifth Olympics, 18 months ago.

This week he announced his retirement from racing, two months after leaving his Plymouth home to begin a new career, studying journalism in Leeds.

Mr Hemery, now president of UK Athletics, told BBC News Online: "He's been a role model for those who think they're over the hill at 30."


His finish of his fifth Olympics, while injured in Sydney, was an inspiration for everyone who witnessed it.

David Hemery, UK Athletics president

Mr Maddocks, 43, came 16th in the 50km walk at the 1984 games - he went on to compete in the next four Olympic games.

But he said the ovation he received when he finished his fifth Olympic race, more than an hour behind the leader because of a serious injury, was the greatest moment of his career.

Spectators had remained in the stadium to wait for him.

Mr Hemery, gold medallist in 1968, told BBC News Online: "There are so many things that could be said.

'True Olympian'

"His finish of his fifth Olympics, while injured in Sydney, was an inspiration for everyone who witnessed it.

"I was fortunate enough to be in the stadium and the announcer said, 'This underlines that it is still as important to take part as it is to win in the Olympics. This is this man's fifth.'

David Hemery
David Hemery: "He was an inspiration"

"With the inspirational music of The Proclaimers, and the standing ovation from 110,000 spectators, it was an awesome recognition of the spirit of a true Olympics and the efforts of a true Olympian.

"I'm glad that his journalistic career will keep him attached to the sport he has served so well."

Chris Maddocks - also known as Mad Max, according to his own retirement letter - said David Hemery was one of many who thought he planned to retire immediately after the Sydney race.

His letter said: "Crossing the finish line in Sydney at the 2000 Olympic Games was a moment that will live with me for the rest of my life, and also perhaps one that might be remembered by others who saw it."


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See also:

01 Oct 00 | Fans Guide
Golden greats and defining moments
29 Sep 00 | Athletics-Track
Maddocks strides into Aussie hearts
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