WRITTEN FOR BRITISH ATHLETICS, FOR THE SAINSBURY’S BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS EVENT PROGRAMME –
Having spent almost two years away from the competition run-way, Goldie Sayers is back and ready to reassert herself as the nation’s javelin queen, and the ten-time British champion spoke to Nicola Bamford about her long-awaited return to the in-field.
The 31 year old Belgrave Harrier was in the form of her life during the 2012 season before an untimely injury put paid to her Olympic ambitions.
In a cruel twist of fate, Sayers tore her elbow ligaments whilst unleashing a mammoth 66.17m lifetime best and national record en route to victory at the Crystal Palace Diamond League on the eve of the Games.
Determined not to miss her home Olympics, however, she regrouped to finish fourth in the European Championships but reluctantly had to give in to her injury nightmare during her third Olympic appearance.
“I should have finished after three rounds at Crystal Palace and then I may have gone on to beat the three who won the Olympic medals, but because I was so focused, I didn’t feel any pain,” she recalled.
“I didn’t believe in luck until that point when I became spectacularly injured at the worst possible time.
“But I don’t regret doing the Games – I could have easily have pulled out but my fitness test beforehand was fine and showed I could throw at 80-90% effort so I would have regretted not competing, I just wasn’t to know that it would take two years to get back.”
‘Great to be back’
Fast-forward 21-months and three operations later, Sayers has returned to what she does best and is determined to regain the British crown this weekend after her enforced hiatus.
Guided by Mark Roberson and based between Lee Valley Athletics Centre in North-East London and Cambridge, Sayers’ comeback began with promise on her season’s debut in Loughborough back in May.
Having not competed since the London Olympic Games in 2012 – where she failed to register a valid mark in the qualifying stage due to her injury – Sayers returned with vengeance, launching her spear to 62.03m to win the Loughborough International ahead of a 59.34m victory at the Bedford International Games earlier this month.
“It’s been an interesting process – the surgery went wrong and I’ve had all sorts of problems but I’ve come out ok on the other side,” she revealed.
“My arm’s been fine but it’s the rest of my body that needs time to adjust. I tore my calf back in January but I trained through the injury.
“There’s a lot of pressure and stress put on the body when you throw the javelin and my body just needs time to adjust after having had so long off.”
Understandably relieved to be competing again, Sayers admitted:
“It’s great to be back – there was a moment I thought I’d never compete again when I was lying in the hospital bed after they’d repaired the ligament.
“They took the screw out but there was a hole in the bone so my arm wasn’t strong enough, and then after the second operation, the doctor did a reconstruction and no one knew how I’d recover.
“Thankfully, I found the best guy in the world, Dr Andrews in Alabama to do the third operation – he’s done thousands of them on throwers and I began throwing again in October.
“It’s made me take every competition as if it is my last as you never know what’s around the corner.
“I don’t take anything for granted now and enjoy every competition, I just go for it.”
And ‘go for it’ she will this weekend as British title number eleven is at stake and there for Sayers’ capable taking in front of the Alexander Stadium crowd.
Arguably the event’s most prolific winner, Sayers has notched up an impressive ten-consecutive victories between 2003 and 2012 – the first two of which as an under23 athlete – in addition to one under 17, three under 20 and three under 23 gold medals during a remarkable 18-year athletic career.
“Birmingham has a great, knowledgeable crowd,” Sayers explained.
“One memory that stands out would be the 2004 trials where I qualified for the Athens Olympics with my last throw – it started raining but I managed to throw 60.05m in the final round to seal my selection.
“And then in 2008 (before placing fourth in the Beijing Olympics), I was so annoyed with how I threw (62.62m) – I was so angry that I lifted a snatch personal best in the gym afterwards.”
On her first senior victory and the subsequent tough times regarding the British Championships, she continued:
“2003 was a step up for me and it was great to win, though it’s a big shame Kelly Morgan (the 2002 Commonwealth bronze medallist) had to retire as we would have had some great battles.
“I competed with a bad injury (a stress fracture of the back) at the 2009 trials as I really wanted to continue my consecutive titles – luckily, I was fine as I just threw off a short approach.
“And I was upset to miss the 2013 trials but I did watch it on TV and it was nice to get the competitive juices flowing and start to feel hungry to throw again.”
Eager to reaffirm her status as the British number one, Sayers is aiming for two major championship medals this summer, having been confirmed for her third England team for next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is hoping to seal her selection for August’s European Championships in Zurich this weekend.
“I’d like to throw a season’s best and throw consistently around the 60m-mark, and of course, win,” Sayers revealed on her ambitions in the West-Midlands city.
“It’s really important to me to pick up my winning streak again.
“I’m proud of my (British Championships) victories but I’ll feel prouder when I look back after my career as you always want more.
“Hopefully, I’ll stay in the record books for a long time – it’s definitely a special competition in my year.”