Dean Macey, the Commonwealth decathlon champion, yesterday delivered the most predictable, and painful, news that British athletics is likely to hear for a very long time as he announced his retirement at the age of 30.
The Canvey Islander, who failed to earn enough points to qualify for the British Olympic team at Hexham on Sunday, said: 'My heart is there, my mind is there, but my body has finally given in. I still believe I have what it takes to succeed at the highest level, but I no longer believe I can stay injury free. I used to tell myself with every injury that this would be the last one, and I would be fine afterwards. But I can't say that to myself any more.'
Macey, who required four injections to his groin on Sunday and finished with a thigh injury which would probably have prevented him competing in Beijing anyway, has carried physical problems of all kinds in an international career that began in startling fashion nine years ago as he earned silver at the World Championships in Seville.
With his quiff of dyed blonde hair, and his Essex boy argot, Macey immediately endeared himself to all and sundry, although his effortless verbal glory was never matched as it should have been by achievements within the athletics arena.
No one who saw the way Macey competed in Seville - committed to the point of lunacy - would have believed that his debut would mark a high point in terms of achievement. But such was Macey's twisted fate.
Two years later, again walking wounded, he took a world bronze, and he finished in the most frustrating position possible at the Olympics of 2000 and 2004 - fourth.
In 2000, he was effectively denied a medal by a controversial appeal which allowed eventual champion Erki Nool, who was ruled to have fouled on all three of his shot putts, to score with last. Invited to comment, Macey was a model of sportsmanship. Arguably, it was his finest hour.
But there was one reward in store for Macey in his last championship decathlon - a Commonwealth gold medal at the Melbourne Games of 2006. Never has a title been more richly deserved.
So now its back to the fishing for Macey, who fronts a popular Sky TV programme on angling. If the BBC don't sign him up for Beijing, they need their collective head examining.Reuse content