Macey emerges from dark days as Olympic prospect

Mike Rowbottom sees a promising first outing this season by Britain's world decathlon silver medallist
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The Independent Online

Dean Macey's Olympic decathlon ambitions were shown to be in healthy shape at Enfield yesterday as he produced two outstanding performances for his club, Harrow, in what was his first competitive action since winning the world silver medal last August.

Dean Macey's Olympic decathlon ambitions were shown to be in healthy shape at Enfield yesterday as he produced two outstanding performances for his club, Harrow, in what was his first competitive action since winning the world silver medal last August.

The 22-year-old Canvey Island athlete, whose performance in Seville quickly established him as something of a national treasure, won the long jump at this British League Second Division meeting in 7.69 metres, adding 18cm to his personal best.

Macey concluded his afternoon with a storming finish on the second leg of the 4x400m relay, moving from sixth to first in a split time of 46.4sec.

The only event which was less than totally successful for Macey was the shot put, where he could only manage 14.18 metres, well below his best of 15.50m.

Afterwards, however, Macey - who was watched by his mum and dad, Pat and Alan, as well as his fiancée Lisa Hayes, was genuinely thrilled by his performances in his first competition in almost a year.

"I was as nervous as hell today because I knew what people would be expecting from me and I expected so much from myself," Macey said as he sat - perhaps appropriately - on the Queen Elizabeth Stadium's gold medal podium position. "Things couldn't have worked out better in the long jump and 400m and although there is work to do in the shot, I know I will be throwing over 15m by the time I get to Sydney. I'm going to get that right."

Since his surprise performance in Seville, Macey has had to cope with more than his fair share of injuries. He required two operations, in September and October last year, to reconstruct his throwing elbow and, while warm weather training in California this April, he suffered a torn hamstring which kept him out of all action for six weeks.

"In the States it was a case of bang, flat on my face on the track. It went just like that. But I'm in good shape now and I'm not experiencing any pain when I throw."

Macey could not help but make a big impression yesterday however he performed as it was the first time he had displayed the large tribal motif tattoo which he had put on his right shoulder last month. And he could not suppress a wide grin as he reflected upon how he had made his mark in the stadium.

"I'm happy with all my events apart from the shot," he said. "In training I've been throwing 15.10 one week and 14.10 the next. It's been inconsistent. I've got too anxious about it and I can feel myself tensing up sometimes when I throw. I just need to relax into the technique a bit more. Realistically if it's only one out of 10 events that ain't going good, I'll be happy with that.

"But if there's one event I really want to win in Sydney it's the 400 metres. This morning I watched the tape of me kicking their butts in Seville over 400, and it really inspires me. I'd love to do that again."

Recalling his long jump competition, he was barely able to stay on the podium with excitement. "My first jump was a marginal no jump but it was around eight metres. I could hardly believe it. If I can do that in Sydney and run the 100 in around 10.5 then it doesn't matter what I do in the shot. I can throw it 10 metres. If I can do it that way, I will!"

Part of Macey's preparation for his comeback appearance involved a series of bets with his fiancée over how he would perform. "In the long jump I bet 7.30 and she bet 7.90 so she won that. I bet 14.50 in the shot and she said 15, so I was right there. But for the 400 I thought 47.4 and she said 46.2. She knows me better than I do!"

Macey will do another three disciplines next weekend in preparation for the 10 that count in Sydney, although he is still deciding whether to compete in the Olympic trials at Birmingham. But wherever he chooses to make his next competitive impact, his first foray since Seville has already confirmed that he is itching for the real action.

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