Athletics: Macey invests emotions in gold

If gold medals were awarded for entertainment value, Dean Macey would have a cabinet full of them. He is never dull but he has never won a gold medal.

The decathlon gets under way on Monday within the 84,000 capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground and offers him the opportunity to correct that anomaly after an injury-strewn seven-year career which has earned him world silver and bronze medals and two fourth places at the Olympics.

In terms of rankings, Macey is several hundreds of points better than any of his likely rivals here. But of course, things are not that simple. With this likeable 28-year-old Canvey Islander, they rarely are.

He has not competed since he forced his battered body through the 10 gruelling events at the 2004 Athens Olympics, for which he qualified at the eleventh hour with a victory at a low-key competition in Hexham.

Having missed last year because of a knee injury, Macey had nursed himself back into contention by finally taking on board the notion that he did not have to train at maximum capacity every minute of the day. But on the eve of his departure to Australia, in circumstances he is reluctant to go into, he injured a hamstring.

"It was quite sickening packing my spikes to be honest," he said yesterday. "Because I knew they might not be needed. I came here needing a miracle but with the help of some fantastic medical back-up that is what has happened.

"I know it's going to hurt, and I'm going to have to nurse myself through a few events. But I'm doing OK. There can certainly be no excuses if I come home without the gold medal. I wouldn't start if I didn't think I was going to finish. And I certainly wouldn't come to the other side of the world to get a silver."

Macey is one of five English athletes topping the Commonwealth rankings as the track and field programme starts tomorrow, with javelin thrower Goldie Sayers being the first of them to test their status.

For Macey, Melbourne offers the opportunity to bury his most painful memory in the sport: having to miss the Manchester Games due to injury, a circumstance that left him so low he had to be dissuaded by his wife the following year from taking up a full-time job as a leisure centre manager.

"Manchester was the lowest of the low," he said. "What would a gold medal here mean to me? If I win it, you will see a grown man cry."

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