Javelin legend Steve Backley believes Goldie Sayers can banish her London 2012 demons
- Credit: AP
DOUBLE Olympic silver medallist Steve Backley has warned Goldie Sayers could be haunted by her London 2012 heartbreak – but has backed her to banish her demons at the World Championships this year.
Newmarket-born Sayers’ dream of winning her first international medal ended in tears at the London Olympics after injury wrecked her chances of qualifying for the javelin final.
In a desperate stroke of misfortune the 30-year-old suffered a torn elbow ligament just three weeks before the Games, at the London Grand Prix, when she broke her own national record for the second time.
Her first round throw of 66.17m that day – which defeated eventual London 2012 champion Barbora Špotáková into second place – would have earned Sayers a home Olympics silver medal.
Such a tale of woe would lead to the downfall of some athletes, but former javelin world record holder Backley believes Sayers has the mental strength to overcome such psychological damage, this season.
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“Last year turned out to be a bit of a disappointment despite the fact she did superbly well and got herself in great shape,” he said.
“The timing as much as the severity of the injury at the Olympics was very unfortunate so clearly her main focus this year will be to get over that.
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“But it could possibly haunt her and so half of the challenge will be to get rid of all the demons and pain and any negative thoughts about it.
“That will be a challenge to be brutally honest. Those thoughts are always in the back of your mind.
“That is where she is at now. It will be a challenge for her, but I think she will be comfortable with handling it.
“If she can get rid of the pain when she throws then she will build up her confidence.
“But it will be a slow process of building that confidence back up and those type of injuries can be hard to shrug off, but we will see how she gets on.”
Despite a record-breaking 10 straight UK Championships, Sayers has yet to medal in the Olympics, World and European Championships, or the Commonwealth Games.
She broke her personal best to finish fourth at Beijing 2008 – less than 50cm away from bronze – but at the 2011 World Championships finished 10th with just 58.18m to her name.
But Backley is backing Sayers, back in training following post-London 2012 surgery, to prove to the world she still remains a force within the sport at the World Athletic Championships in Moscow in August – especially with two-time Olympic champion Špotáková missing next season due to pregnancy.
“If she can get over that setback, which hopefully won’t become an issue, she could end up with a World Championship medal,” added four-time European champion Backley.
“There are four years left and she needs to get on the rostrum at one of the big Championships. “That’s what she needs to do.
“When she goes into retirement she will be judged on how many medals she has won.
“But does she deserve a world medal? That’s a tough one in athletics.
“There have been a lot of people who have deserved a medal and didn’t get one and others who have got them and didn’t deserve it.
“But the point is, you have got to make it happen. And that’s tough.
“But hopefully Goldie can make it happen in the next few years and hopefully starting this summer at the World Championships.”