An email conversation with Dean Macey: 'Looking after me is like a full-time babysitting job'

What it felt like to finally win gold in Melbourne; Metallica - my secret weapon in the decathlon; Nearly packing it all in for a job at a leisure centre; Why fishing is only fun when training is going well
Click to follow
The Independent Online

How are you going to celebrate your Commonwealth Games decathlon gold medal when you get home? We're going to have a couple of parties - one for family, one for mates. They wanted me to have a party before I left, but I refused. I thought it would be bad luck. I also refused to learn "Land of Hope and Glory". I thought I'd rather look like a melon not singing on the podium than learn it all and not be there. It was fantastic to have so many friends and family in Melbourne. My mum and dad have travelled all around the world supporting me, and to get on top of the podium was payback for them.

What were you thinking on the podium when you saw the flag go up? I was thinking, "Don't cry. Be a rock." It was weird. When you are second or third you can just get on the podium and have a laugh. But when it's you winning the gold it's different. What I wanted to do all through was to shout "Yeah! Come on!" but I had to contain myself. What I will never forget is the lap of honour. English people were running to the barriers with pieces of paper to sign and silly hats. It was 25-30 people deep all the way round. Some of them were screaming at me, "It's about time Macey!" And I was shouting back, "Too f***ing right!"

What are you going to do with your gold medal? I don't know. If you come to our house, you wouldn't know that an athlete lived there. I like to switch off when I come back home. I was looking at my medal just a few minutes ago and it's hard to believe it's real. But I don't do it for that. I just wanted the feeling in my belly of knowing that I was the best man there on the day.

How was the decathlon competition itself? It was definitely something special. Because there were not that many competitors and we all spoke a common language, it was very intimate. The Aussie [Jason Dudley] pushed me all the way to the finish, and at one point I thought I'd better make sure I got something out of it, so I got everyone to agree that the beers were on the winner. I had to put my hand in my pocket in the end - and it went in pretty deep. Those Aussie boys like their beer.

How do you think England have acquitted themselves at the Commonwealth Games? I think we've done really well, in the boxing, the swimming, the cycling and the athletics. It has been a really good atmosphere in the athletes' village - 10 times better than at the Olympics. The Olympics are quite serious, but here everyone is mixing and having a good time.

Kelly Sotherton - heptathlon gold, but another weak javelin throw. What can she do about it? Kelly is absolutely made up about winning the gold, but she knows she let herself down in the javelin. She's a lot better thrower than she showed here. If she had needed a longer javelin throw I think she would have found it because she's a real competitor and a world-class performer. It happens to all of us sometimes - I only threw 54 metres in the 2001 World Championships and that cost me a better medal than bronze. As long as she can get it sorted by the time of the European Championships she'll be fine.

The Europeans are only five months away, and you've never competed in them yet. Are you going to be fit to take part? Try and stop me, mate. I'll be there come hell or high water. It would really set me up to win a couple of gold medals this year, but I need to improve on my level here - 8,100 points would only get you sixth in the Europeans. I reckon I'm probably in 8,300-shape right now and in the next four months I can add a couple of hundred onto that which would probably make me a medal contender in Gothenburg. But beating the world record holder, Roman Sebrle, is another matter. We'll see.

What music do you listen to? Heavy metal. I'm not allowed to listen to it indoors because it makes me aggressive. Usually I listen to it in the car, although that's probably not such a good idea, is it? I can go into a warm-up room feeling nervous and after listening to Metallica or AC/DC I come out wanting to tear people's faces off. I like the Foo Fighters too, although they aren't heavy metal. But sometimes I like the R 'n'B stuff to chill out. Girly stuff.

Of what outside athletics are you most proud? My marriage. By far and away. It doesn't matter how many gold medals I win, my wedding day will always be the best day of my life. You can control your destiny in athletics, but you can't make people love you. Looking after me is like a full-time babysitting job - I'm not easy to live with. Lisa is a saint.

What is your idea of a good night? I used to be a bit of a beer monster - clubbing, fighting, all that. My ideal now is a takeaway, a beer and cuddling up on the sofa in front of a film.

Lisa has also been looking after your dog while you were away, hasn't she? Tell us about the hound. She's a Staffie - a Staffordshire bull terrier, and we call her Babe, like the pig. When we first got her I heard her snoring in her sleep and I thought she sounded like Babe in the film. Lisa likes that name anyway, so that was it. Babe comes training with me every day. She will sit a foot away from the shot-put circle when I'm throwing, and when I've finished she will get her ball because it's her turn. We got her when she was three months old, and she's been coming down the track with me for the last five years. It's her birthday soon and we'll be giving her a doggieburger and half a pint. We are way OTT with her - you know you see all these Hollywood people buying clothes for their dogs, we don't do that, but believe me she does live the life.

How's the fishing going? My elbow is a little bit too sore for that right now.

What's the biggest fish you've caught? A 71lb catfish. I got that in France. But I mainly do river fishing, which is a lot more difficult. My most difficult catch was probably my first double-figure barbel. If training is going well I can sometimes sweet-talk the wife and go down the river for an evening. But I only like to fish if everything is going well in my athletics. Otherwise I don't feel like I should be there.

You did a fishing programme on television last year, didn't you? Yeah, it was called On Coarse With Dean Macey, and it was on Sky's Discovery Reality channel. I'd love to do some more programmes like that.

What has been your finest hour? It was at the world champs in Edmonton five years ago. That was good because I hurt myself quite badly in the first event but I still got a bronze. When I won the silver in the Seville world champs two years earlier it was possibly my finest hour because everything seemed so easy for me - it was the only decathlon I have done that didn't hurt.

You were about to take a job as a leisure centre manager at the beginning of 2004 until Lisa persuaded you not to. Good decision? Well I'd missed 2002 and 2003 with injury, and then I hurt myself again, and it looked like I might not be doing anything in 2004 either. My funding had run out - it was as simple as that, and I needed to find something. I had no problem with it. If you are a professional athlete and you don't compete, that's what happens. Luckily the decision paid off because I managed to make the Olympics.

You are 28 now. How long do you see yourself competing for? I'd love to defend the Commonwealth title in 2010. I've got maybe four years max, and I would love to be winning medals in every one of them.

Which three words sum up your character? Optimistically pessimistic, stupid, fun. I can be all three things at the same time.

Attachment: The Dean Macey lowdown

* Born: Rochford, Essex, 12 December 1977.

* Lives: Canvey Island. Married to Lisa. His mum and dad, Pat and Alan, also live on Canvey Island.

* 1999: Fell in high hurdles while leading decathlon at European Under-23 Championships. Earned public recognition with an audacious performance at the Seville World Championships, where he won silver.

* 2000: Fourth in Sydney Olympics despite elbow injury. Gold went to Erki Nool, of Estonia, despite suspicions that his third attempt to register a shot-put mark had been a no-throw. Macey refused to criticise judges' decision.

* 2001: Bronze medallist at Edmonton World Championships despite groin injury.

* 2002: Low point of career as he had to miss Manchester Commonwealth Games and European Championships with hamstring trouble.

* 2003: Further injuries prevent him competing.

* 2004: Considers taking job as leisure centre manager as injuries make it unlikely he will compete in Athens Olympics. But goes to Greece and manages another fourth place.

* 2005: Knee injury wipes out another season.

* 2006: Commonwealth gold despite another injury scare.

Comments