Sayers strives to avoid the nightmare of fourth

British javelin hopeful unleashes throw that bodes well for medal challenge

For two months short of four years now Goldie Sayers has had time to reflect on the loneliest placing in the Olympic Games: fourth. In the final of the women's javelin in Beijing in 2008 the Cambridgeshire woman hurled her spear 65.75m, a British record and a distance that had secured a medal in every previous Olympic Games.

Sadly, on that occasion, it was not quite enough. Sayers was denied the bronze by the German Christina Obergföll by a margin of 48cm as Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic and Russia's Mariya Abamkumova took gold and silver.

In the Golden Gala meeting in Rome on Thursday evening, two months out from a home Olympics, Sayers unleashed her biggest throw since the 2008 Games. A first round effort of 64.73m earned her third place behind Spotakova (68.85m) and Sunette Viljoen, the 2011 World Championship bronze medallist from South Africa (67.95m). It also claimed the 29-year-old former national age group table tennis champion the scalps of Obergföll, who finished fourth with 62.60m, and Abakumbova, fifth with 62.00m.

Having been banjaxed by injury for two years after Beijing, and placed 10th in the World Championship final last summer, it was evidence that Sayers is getting back to something approaching her best. She is a member of the eclectic bunch of athletes coached by Dan Pfaff at the UK Athletics National Performance Centre at Lee Valley, north-east London. Pfaaf, the American who guided Canadian Donovan Bailey to Olympic 100m gold in 1996, has a diverse stable which includes long jumper Greg Rutherford, pole vaulter Steve Lewis, 400m hurdler Rhys Williams and veteran sprinters Marlon Devonish and Christian Malcom.

"Dan describes our group as 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest'," Sayers says, chuckling at the description. "There's all sorts of events and personality types. It's great fun. I'm learning a lot about all sorts of different events. If you want to sprint you can train with the fastest people in the country. If you want to jump you've got the best long jumper. It's a great way of pushing yourself."

As the big one that she let fly in the Bird's Nest was not been good enough for a place on the podium, Sayers knows she needs to push herself to have a chance of making the top three in London. "At the moment the event is tough," she says. "It has been like that for four or five years.

"I know it's definitely going to take 70m-plus to win. It's going to probably take a personal best to medal. But I threw a personal best last time and thought that would be enough in the conditions that day. It wasn't quite enough but on reflection I have to be quite proud of that performance.

"It's so difficult in this sport to say, 'I want to win a medal'. I mean I do want to win a medal but it's difficult to say 'I'm definitely going to do that,' when you've got no idea what the others are going to do."

Still, it bodes well that Sayers managed to unleash her best throw for four years in Rome despite having been struck down by food poisoning courtesy of a dodgy salmon salad earlier in the week. "There's still a bit to do," she says, "but I'm pleased with where I'm at – just a steady progression of season's bests."

Next up is the Diamond League in New York on Saturday but the big target for Goldie in 2012 is London and gold, silver or bronze.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine