Athletics: Macey determined to give Athens best shot

Dean Macey, whose Olympic ambitions were undermined by a pulled hamstring just over a week ago, declared yesterday that he was "100 per cent confident" he would be competing in Athens this August.

Dean Macey, whose Olympic ambitions were undermined by a pulled hamstring just over a week ago, declared yesterday that he was "100 per cent confident" he would be competing in Athens this August.

But he acknowledged that he could not realistically hope to take the gold medal, as he promised he would do after finishing fourth in Sydney.

He said: "If a couple of my opponents fell over in the hurdles, and a couple of them got lost on the way... I've got to be honest. I can't see myself winning it, although stranger things have happened." Speaking from the British training base in Paphos, the 26-year-old - who has not competed since earning a world bronze medal at Edmonton in 2001 - admitted that he was a long way behind where he wanted to be. He added, however, that his rehabilitation had gone better than expected and that he would be able to fit in a qualifying mark somewhere before the deadline of 19 July.

Charles Van Commenee, technical director of multi-events for UK Athletics, is not ruling out his reaching the podium in Athens.

"You can never guarantee anything," the Dutchman said. "What I do know is that no one has more willpower than Dean Macey, in competition especially. But it is not going to be easy for him."

Wherever Macey competes - and the favourite venues are Ratigen, in Germany on 26 June or the European Cup in Hengelo a week later - he has a minimum requirement of scoring 7,700 points, in order to qualify on the Olympic B standard. But, as Van Commenee points out, the crucial point is what kind of shape that would leave him in.

"Getting 7,700 points would be a piece of cake for him," Van Commenee said. "He could do that right now, but he would hurt himself so much that the Olympics are a no-go."

For Denise Lewis, defending Olympic heptathlon champion, such calculations are unnecessary as she has a qualifying mark from finishing fifth at last year's World Championships.

That has allowed her to drop plans of completing a pre-Olympic heptathlon in order to allow the foot injury, which is a legacy of her win in Sydney four years ago, time to heal.

She would not be drawn on her prospects in Athens, but said that she was in "much better shape" than she was last season, adding: "It's encouraging." We may not be blessed in Britain with the healthiest multi-athletes, but they are the strongest mentally.

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