‘It was not my time’ Goldie Sayers reflects on Olympic injury agony
- Credit: AP
Goldie Sayers’ biggest regret is that she didn’t give up.
But then such a phrase is not part of an athlete’s mindset.
On the eve of the biggest moment of her career – the 2012 Olympic Games in London – the ‘Suffolk Slinger’ took to the track at Crystal Palace, for the Diamond League, just under two weeks before the Opening Ceremony.
The Newmarket-born javelin thrower, who finished fourth in Beijing in 2008, had already broken her own national record, ahead of her fourth throw.
It was then that disaster struck, Sayers tearing a ligament in her right elbow.
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She battled on and went on to take her place at her home Games, but three no throws saw her fail to qualify for the final and, to add salt to her wounds, she ripped the ligament off the bone, during the first round of the Olympic competition.
“I can’t blame anyone,” said the 30-year-old British number one, who would have clinched silver at London 2012 had she been able to repeat her British record throw of 66.17m.
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“My biggest regret is not sitting down after three throws at Crystal Palace. I have never finished after three rounds though and I remember thinking ‘go for a fourth round to see how your energy levels are’.”
Sayers made a valiant attempt to reach the podium in London, but it wasn’t to be.
“I could not feel my hand and I did not have any pain,” said Sayers, remembering the moment she made the problem worse at the Olympic Stadium.
“Had it not been a home Olympics I would not have tried to compete, especially knowing I had potentially torn a ligament. I don’t regret trying to compete; I would have regretted it more had I not.
“I don’t understand what happened. I was not throwing the javelin in a dangerous way – I had thrown that way a million times before.
“It just wasn’t my time and there is a lot more disappointment than success in sport.”
Post-Olympics, Sayers went under the knife in the UK to try and fix the problem but worse was to follow.
“The first operation was not successful,” she recalls. “I was re-habing but it never felt right. It was constantly flaring up.
“I had another scan in February and it transpired that one of the screws had come out by half a centimetre, and that’s quite a lot in an elbow.”
Sayers then turned to America in a bid to get back on track.
“Unfortunately in the UK they are not as experienced with elbows,” she said. “Cricketers don’t get it (elbow surgery) done in the UK, they go to America,” said Sayers.
“If I’d have had that operation the first time around, then I would have been fit to compete this season.”
Sayers is now targeting next year’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships, and still wants to make the Rio Olympics, in 2016.
“I should start throwing next month but they say the surgery I have had is the equivalent of having anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction on your knee, and it takes the best part of a year to get back to the levels that you were before,” she explained.
“You have to put your faith in people and it is not until you have unsuccessful surgery that you start to question who is doing what.”
Sayers’ best throw is 66.17m, while Loughborough University’s Isabelle Jeffs currently leads British Athletics’ Power of 10 table with a pb of 56.31.
“I have been on my own for a while but there are a couple of girls in their early twenties who I hope can get up to the 60m mark,” Sayers concluded.