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Dean Macey will on Monday set out on his Herculean journey, the 10 events of the decathlon, buoyed by the exuberant success of his colleague Kelly Sotherton in the heptathlon on Saturday.
Sotherton, who is so self-deprecating in interviews that she would ask a judge for a longer sentence should she ever find herself having committed an infraction, was a revelation in winning a bronze medal.
The way she took her final event, the 800m, by the throat deserved even better than bronze, but as ever the javelin had let her down. Once she masters that, she will get much closer to, perhaps even challenge, the winner Carolina Klüft.
It may be something they put in the water in Essex, but Macey is just as exuberant in action as his county colleague Sotherton. Yet unlike her he is the same off the track and field. Macey is as entertaining in interviews as he is when on top of his game in the stadium.
Unfortunately, he has not been in anything like that form for three years. After winning a surprise silver at the 1999 world championships, he missed out on a medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but returned to get a bronze in the 2001 world championships. He has endured a series of injuries since then, and qualified for Athens only at the 11th hour.
But if Sotherton can overcome her inexperience to win bronze, then Macey feels he can overcome his lack of preparation and do the same.
“I was crap in Sydney, I got carried away,” he said. “Mentally, I let myself down. I was in great shape, I should have made better use of it, but I got carried away. The gold was there for the taking, but I threw it away.
“I'm not in that sort of shape, but I believe I'm every bit as good as any man on earth. I'm not as fast, but I'm technically good, and my jumps are solid, I can make up points there. And I did a 1500m PB [personal best] in Hexham [this month].
“If I can nail the first two events [100m and long jump], I'll start competing. If I can be on 4,400 points at the end of the first day, I can compete.
“My best chance to win bronze is to be relaxed. It's all coming into place. There's a long way to go physically, but I'm ready for it.
“The gold and silver are taken, as long as they stay upright [Roman] Sebrle and [Tom] Pappas will get them, but I'm in the mix for bronze.”
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