Macey in need of luck and judgement

Mike Rowbottom talks to a decathlete, who is competing for the first time in three years, as he aims for Olympic qualification

Spectators At the multi-events competition taking place in the Northumbrian market town of Hexham this weekend will be guaranteed a sight never before witnessed in British athletics - that of Dean Macey trying not to try too hard.

Spectators At the multi-events competition taking place in the Northumbrian market town of Hexham this weekend will be guaranteed a sight never before witnessed in British athletics - that of Dean Macey trying not to try too hard.

If one thing has become obvious since he blazed into public consciousness five years ago by earning an unexpected world decathlon silver medal, it is this: Macey doesn't do caution.

That is both his glory, and his weakness. Today, however, Canvey Island's favourite son will go to the line in the first of his 10 events, the 100 metres, knowing that he cannot afford to give full expression to a competitive spirit that has been excruciatingly curbed by injury for the last three years.

In what will be not just his first decathlon, but his first competition since winning bronze at the 2001 World Championships, the 26-year-old Newham and Essex Beagle needs to score at least 7,700 points, the Olympic B standard qualifier if he is to go to the Games which start in less than four weeks from now.

But he toes the line praying that the hamstring he pulled at the start of May will allow him to complete the course and arrive in Athens fit to compete.

It is a big ask.

"What can I say?" commented Charles van Commenee, head coach for jumps and multi-events at UK Athletics. "I wouldn't guarantee anything. What I do know is there is no one with stronger willpower than Dean Macey, in competition especially. But the fact is that he hasn't competed for quite a long time and it's not easy."

The historical omens are not good. Twelve years ago, Daley Thompson found himself in a similar position, and after dropping out of a decathlon in Trondheim during the first day, he injured himself in the first event of a decathlon at Crystal Palace a few days later on the eve of the Olympic selection deadline.

As of yesterday, after a week in which he had successfully completed two hurdles drills and a long jump practice, Macey was officially described by Van Commenee as being "moderately positive" about his prospects.

The man who coached Denise Lewis to the Olympic heptathlon four years ago added: "Dean is a bit worried, naturally. But we have discussed the weekend in great detail and he knows exactly what he has to do in each event. He has got to hold back in every area except the throws."

Macey maintains he has been a changed man this year. "I've seen the mistakes I've made in the last two years," he said. "Going hell for leather as soon as I started getting fit. Now I'm listening more." Asked to assess his prospects in May, a couple of weeks after his season had been jolted out of joint by his latest injury, Macey responded with characteristic optimism, saying that he was "100 per cent confident" of making the Games.

"It's only three events I need to work on - the 100m, the 400m and the hurdles," he said. "The other seven events, I'm sweet." Mention of his television promise to the British nation after the last Olympics, where he finished fourth, gives him pause for thought.

"Well, yeah," he said. "But I need a bit of luck. If a couple of the others fell over on 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 because I won silver in Seville at my first World Championships and I wasn't supposed to. You know, the sun shines on a dog's arse some days, as they say.

"But I can't see myself winning it. And things would have to go pretty well for me to win a medal as well. I've had my fair share of bad luck, though. Why can't I expect to get a little bit of good luck?"

What Macey needs this year, apart from good luck, is a score of 8,400 points, without which he will lose his Lottery funding. What happens, you wonder, if he can't manage it? "Don't know. I haven't got a plan B," he said. "But to be honest I don't expect to need one."

Fingers, and anything else, crossed ...

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...