The day I beat an Olympian...

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As Britain returns to some sort of normality after the inspiring thrills of the Beijing Games, so our thoughts turn to our own athletic endeavours and how we could and should have done a lot better. But for a select few it is not just a question of dreaming. They are the ones who have claimed the scalp of an athletics superstar and had their own moment of glory. These are their stories

Stacy Washington beat Kelly Holmes

Age: 36
Occupation: Nurse
Kids: Two
Lives: Tonbridge Club Tonbridge AC
Big scalp: Beat Kelly Holmes in the winter of 1982-83 at a Tonbridge Schools' Cross-Country event

Washington on Holmes...

"I competed in local races from the age of about eight and I was used to winning the local races. We had a local schools event and I competed for Sussex Road Primary School and Kelly, who was a year older, was at the Hugh Christie School. I'd never seen Kelly before and she clearly hadn't much running experience as she was running in plimsolls and her proper PE kit. Kelly was up with me for most of the race and then took the lead in the later stages.

"I thought, 'I'm not having this', and sprinted past her to win. I competed for a few more years and I'm still ranked in the top 10 all-time in the Under-13 UK rankings for 1500m. I was forced to stop running at 15, when I snapped a ligament in the base of my back.

"I've no regrets. I'm no longer involved in the sport because I'm busy with my two young boys.

"Kelly has been asked a million times how she started running and she always refers to that race against me."

James Peacock beat Phillips Idowu

Age: 30
Status: Single
Kids: None
Lives: Crystal Palace, London
Club: Thurrock Harriers
Occupation: Special projects analyst for a shipping company
Big scalp: Aged 18, James defeated the current world indoor champion Phillips Idowu in the Senior Boys' triple jump at the 1996 English Schools' Championships in Sheffield.

Peacock on Idowu...

"I started out as a middle-distance runner but then got a bit lazy and started doing sprints and the long jump and triple jump. I found out I was good at the triple jump at school and won the Intermediate Boys' Triple Jump at the 1994 English Schools, beating Dean Macey [the Commonwealth decathlon champion] who was my room-mate on the trip.

"The following year, at the English Schools, I won silver but my victory at the 1996 English Schools when I beat Phillips Idowu was the highlight of my career.

"I was just about favourite to win and I don't think Phillips had ever beaten me at that point. Phillips led after the first round but I jumped a personal best, albeit wind-assisted, of 15.78 metres in the next round to win.

"Phillips didn't have the crazy hair and piercings he has today and was a very quiet, polite guy. It was only about a year later after he'd grown about five inches and filled out that I thought he had the physique to go to the very top. About a year later I competed in an Under-20s match for Britain against Italy, but by the time I was about 21 I'd given up the sport because I wasn't enjoying it.

"I don't really have any regrets. I didn't make the decision to quit the sport lightly and I would have carried on if I thought I could have made it to the top.

"Now I play five-a-side football and go to the gym to keep fit but, funnily, I now live over the road from the Crystal Palace track and I can actually hear the starting pistol from my house."

Kirk Dumpleton beat Seb Coe and Steve Ovett

Age: 52
Status: Married
Kids: Two
Lives: Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Club: Verlea Club
Occupation: Assistant head teacher/history teacher
Big scalp: When aged 16, Kirk made history by becoming the only British man to defeat Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in the same race when winning the Intermediate Boys' Race at the 1972 English Schools' Cross-Country Championships in Hillingdon. Ovett was second. Coe was 10th.

Dumpleton on Coe and Ovett...

"I knew of both Steve Ovett and Seb Coe before the race. I'd met Steve before and I'd read about Seb in Athletics Weekly. Going into the race I knew that I was in great shape. I'd only lost one cross-country race in six months and that was only by a second. The course was quite hilly and and I remember feeling fantastic. Even a couple of miles in I realised everyone was blowing quite heavily, so I put a little burst in, kicked away and won by about 20 seconds.

"I got to know Steve better when I was 17 or 18. We shared the same coach, Harry Wilson, and I stayed with Steve and trained with him for a few days in Brighton. Steve always had a great sense of humour and was what you would call a runner's runner. I wouldn't say I got to know Seb as a friend, but I studied with him at Loughborough University and even then you could see how incredibly disciplined he was in training.

"I kept on running competitively until I was 34. I ran 4:01 for the mile and 48 minutes for 10 miles, which wasn't too bad, but I got a stress fracture when I was 22 and was out for a year. I even ran a 2:25 marathon at 33. I received a lot of attention in the press around the time of the 1980 Moscow Olympics as the only Brit who ever beat Coe and Ovett in the same race. But do I have any regrets? Not really. I've enjoyed the athletics challenges in my life. You could blame the injuries, but you could also say I just never had the talent."

Paul Bushnell beat S teve Backley

Age: 39
Status: Married
Kids: Four
Lives: Chelmsford
Club: Chelmsford AC
Occupation: Building consultant
Big scalp: Beat Steve Backley in the Intermediate Boys' Javelin at the 1985 English Schools' Track and Field Championships in Hull. Bushnell threw 63.00m for gold. Backley won silver.

Bushnell on Backley...

"I went into the competition aiming to win. I was unbeaten all year, although I was aware of Steve because he was creeping up on me all season. I remember my longest throw was in the first round and, although Steve was getting better each round, I hung on to win. A few weeks later at the British Schools' Championships in Ireland I shared a room with Steve. He was very easy to talk to and we'd always have a laugh. In Ireland we both threw personal bests and I beat Steve again. I gave up javelin at the end of the season to play cricket because there was more money in cricket.

"I was a fast bowler at Essex for three years and I was on the fringe of the first team when I broke my kneecap playing rugby. When I was 20 I returned to athletics for a couple of years and made the England Under-23 team, throwing a best of 70.00m. But Steve had really moved on and was a top-class thrower, and we never competed against each other again. I do have a few regrets and wonder what might have been if I had stuck with the javelin."

Backley talks to 'Spikes' about Bushnell...

"I was battling against a whole group of athletes then, but Paul stood out because he was so good. He was a great competitor and very talented but I guess he was one of thousands of talented athletes. He was top of the pecking order as a junior and got the better of me. I remember three or four of us stayed at the same house at the British Schools in 1985, which Paul won, although I remember he broke his fingers after landing with his Jan Zelezny-style throwing action. A few years later I made a big breakthrough at the European Juniors and he just vanished."

Michelle Dollard (nee Wilkinson) beat Paula Radcliffe

Age: 35
Status: Married
Kids: Three
Lives: Gatley, Manchester
Club: Manchester Harriers
Occupation: Housewife
Big scalp:
Michelle Dollard, then called Wilkinson, beat Paula Radcliffe to win the Under-13 Girls' Race at the 1986 English National Cross-Country Championships at Western Park, Leicester. Radcliffe finished 299th.

Dollard on Radcliffe...

"It sounds funny now, because of what Paula has gone on to achieve, but because she had only just started the sport I'd never heard of her. I only knew about my main rivals: Claire Nicholson, Sue Byrom and my twin sister, Lynne. I had been running since the age of five and I was used to winning big races, but the National is such a big event – with about 800 girls – I would have been pleased with a top-10 finish. I remember it was a snowy day and I ran with my twin sister for some of the race before kicking away at the end. I never got to know Paula until later on and I was in the same Great Britain team as her at the 1992 World Junior Championships in Seoul, where I ran the 800m and Paula the 3,000m.

"My career ended soon after, although I can't remember exactly when. I left school at 16 to start work as a secretary and didn't have any funding. I found it hard coming in from work every day at 6.30pm and then going out to training. I'd also had a few calf injuries, but maybe I just didn't have that commitment and my life took a different path.

"As for Paula, she's done so well and I'm very pleased for her but I am also very proud to tell my kids I reached the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships."

For more stories like this from the world of athletics please visit www.spikesmag.com and sign up for a free subscription to SPIKES magazine

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm that there was a 'minor disturbance'

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album