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Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 17:44 UK

Heir to Dean Macey

By Saj Chowdhury

Daniel Awde
Awde has set his sights on gold in 2012
Being the messenger of bad news is a tough line of work at the best of times, but when you have to relay the information to one of Britain's Olympic hopefuls the magnitude of the task goes up a notch or two.

Shortly after finishing a phone interview with Beijing-bound Daniel Awde, I had the displeasure of calling him again with the news that his fellow decathlete and former training partner Dean Macey, 30, had announced his retirement.

Injuries had plagued Macey during a career that saw him win the 2006 Commonwealth title and achieve two Olympic Games fourth places.

But his hopes of making a third Olympics were shattered when he fell 209 points short of the minimum Olympic 'B' qualification standard at an event in Hexham, Northumberland.

"I'm in shock," said 20-year-old Awde. "He's been through so much - the guy was unbreakable.

Lord Sebastian

"I was at Hexham last weekend and Dean said a couple of words to me. I could tell he was finding it agonising but he kept soldiering on. Watching him in the final event, the 1500m, brought a lump to my throat."

Awde is trained by Greg Richards, who also coached Commonwealth gold medallist Macey.

"I went to California for warm-weather training with Dean earlier this year," said the Woodford Green and Essex Ladies athlete.

"I learnt a lot from him on that trip. He showed great professionalism in the way he conducted himself, in the way he co-operated with physios and in the manner which he spoke to Greg."

He added: "I can't believe he won't be competing anymore, but I fear if he carried on he would have done himself some damage. He said this was going to be his final year - it's just a shame he didn't finish his career with a third Olympics."

In a wicked twist, Macey's misfortune was Awde's gain and the rookie is hoping to make the most of his chance, although he hopes he is not overawed by the occasion.

"I don't know many of the GB athletics squad," said Awde.

"The decathletes and heptathletes tend to compete at different meetings to the others. But at least I know Kelly Sotherton and I'm good friends with Julie Hollman.

"Going out there with the team will be pretty special. I'll be 'wow, there's Simeon Williamson and Phillips Idowu'. I hope they take me under their wings."

Awde has also had the benefit of an "inspirational" conversation with two-times Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson.

London 2012 is my target and by then I'll have trained harder and I'll be stronger and faster

Daniel Awde

"My coach Greg is good friends with Daley and this larger-than-life image appeared in my mind whenever he talked about him," said Awde, who was not born when Thompson won his second gold in Los Angeles 1984 and watched the decathlete in action on YouTube before meeting him.

"Daley told me I would enjoy the Olympics and that the first experience would blow my mind. He also told me to watch all the top names like Roman Sebrle and Bryan Clay and not to be scared to ask them questions, so I could learn and become a better athlete.

"When someone like that gives you that sort of advice, you listen."

Awde, who trains six days a week, achieved the decathlon 'B' standard of 7700 twice this year, at the England Championships in June then at the European Cup in Finland.

He realises decathlon gold is out of his reach but has set himself other targets for Beijing.

"The main thing for me is to learn from this experience - the crowd, the competition, the big names, travelling with the team and being an Olympian.

"I'm hoping to break the magical 8,000 points mark."

He added: "London 2012 is my target and by then I'll have trained harder and I'll be stronger and faster.

"I'll be looking to win, as Daley would say, 'the Big G'."

see also
Decathlete Macey decides to quit
15 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Sprinters in limbo as squad named
14 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Macey ponders retirement
14 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Fourth place for Macey
24 Aug 04 |  Athletics
Macey the Mouth
15 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Macey's musings
22 Mar 06 |  Fun and Games

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