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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK
Macey banishes the demons
By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Athens

Dean Macey

When asked two days before the start of the decathlon whether Dean Macey was ready for action, UK Athletics combined events coach Charles van Commenee hesitated.

"He was five minutes ago," said Van Commenee. "But with Dean, you never know."

Macey's injury nightmare in the past three years has been so bad that he was just relieved to have got through the competition in Athens unscathed.

In the lead-up to the Games, Achilles and hamstring problems had restricted the Essex athlete to only one full event since he won a world championship bronze medal in Edmonton three years ago.

That was a low-key meet in Hexham last month - when he achieved the 'B' qualifying standard for Athens.

"It's good to be back," said Macey after finishing fourth, 311 points behind bronze medallist Dmitriy Karpov.

I've learned so much from my back-up team and I won't be training like a bull in a china shop
Dean Macey
"It was a real slog. My hamstring has not been a problem, but we have been nursing it.

"I've got to mention the back-up team. They have been white as ghosts for 48 hours."

Macey's fourth place may have matched his finish at the Games four years ago, but the two events could not have been more different.

In Sydney, the former lifeguard was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a medal as he ended up just 28 points behind American Chris Huffins in the closest ever Olympic decathlon.

That was after gold medallist Erki Nool had successfully appealed against being given three fouls in the discus event, which would have knocked the Estonian out of contention.

MACEY'S INJURY WOE
1996: stress fracture of shins
1997: hamstring
2000: right elbow surgery
2002: hamstring surgery, missed Commonwealth Games
2003: Achilles, missed world championships
2004: hamstring, missed Gotzis meeting
This time round Czech star Roman Sebrle was streets ahead as he took gold with a new Olympic record of 8893 points, breaking the mark set by Britain's Daley Thompson in Los Angeles in 1984.

A below-par pole vault display effectively ended Macey's medal hopes, and only a storming run in the 1500m allowed him to overtake Dutch training partner Chiel Warners.

"It's a bit of deja vu, but I went into it last time expecting to get a medal. I didn't really expect to get a medal here," said Macey.

"I figured the bronze was up for grabs but you can't anticipate guys scoring the scores they did.

"That's the strongest field there has ever been."

Macey admitted the reception he received from the crowd after he had equalled his personal best in the high jump on day one had left him close to tears.

"I had the same for the last 400 metres of the 1500m," he said. "They were all chanting 'Deano' and 'Macey' and it was just phenomenal."

Having conquered his injury demons, the 26-year-old from Canvey Island will approach 2005 with renewed optimism.

"Going into next year I honestly believe I will have less problems, just because my body will be more conditioned for training at that intensity," he said.

"I've learned so much from my back-up team and I won't be training like a bull in a china shop.

"Fourth place was not good enough for a medal, but I will take this one on the chin, trust me.

"And I will look forward to Beijing, and the world championships next year."

Whisper it quietly, but Dean Macey is back.





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Going for Gold: Dean Macey
17 Mar 04  |  Athletics


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