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Denise's steps to Olympic gold
Around the Academy:

Denise Lewis celebrates her Olympic victory in Sydney
Victory eases the pain for Denise in Sydney

Denise Lewis reveals her joy with an Olympic gold

It was so, so painful but the effort was worth it.

To become heptathlon champion at the Sydney Olympics was a dream come true.

I've always enjoyed athletics since school and my club Birchfield Harriers, as well as my Mum, has always encouraged me.

The heptathlon has seven events. I used to just do the long jump but I decided it would be more fun and challenging to do as many as I could.

I won gold at the 1994 and 1998 Commonwealth Games and was runner-up at the Athens World Championships, but the Olympic stage was where I wanted to be.

Agonising finish

I competed against the amazing Jackie Joyner-Kersee in Atlanta in 1996 and although I got a bronze, it made me even more determined to stand at the top of that podium.

Injuries are incredibly frustrating and this really affected my Olympic preparations for Australia in 2000.

Denise Lewis looks nervous as she completes the 800m
The tension rises in the 800m

I had a calf operation and an old shoulder injury reappeared but two months before leaving, I was feeling confident after a number of personal bests at a competition in France.

Injury forced the 1996 champion Ghada Shouaa and favourite Eunice Barber to pull out during the event so that made me feel better.

On the second day my foot was hurting during the long jump and it got worse - I almost didn't do the javelin.

The 800m was the final discipline and I was ahead on points and just had to finish within 10 seconds of Russia's Yelena Prokhorova.

I ran in absolute agony but with the crowd spurring me on, I made it round. Just.

I was so emotional. Gold was mine.

But I'm not stopping there.

I want to be double Olympic champion in Athens in 2004.

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Denise facts
Born: 27.8.72 in West Bromwich, England
First heptathlon: She scored 5277pts in 1989
Olympics: Bronze in 1996, gold in 2000
Other gold medals: 1998 Commonwealth Games and 1998 European Championships

Did you know?
Denise used to sing in a choir and she also learned ballet and tap-dancing

Open Quote
You definitely need a very strong mind to cope with the failures that take place during the two days in heptathlon
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Denise Lewis has worked hard to get to the top
Denise Lewis
Birchfield Harrier star

:: Denise profile

:: UK Athletics
:: Birchfield Harriers Athletics Club

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