Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shattered dream for Geelong athlete

from w
Nathan Deakes is such a committed athlete, yet an injury has now stopped his dream of going to Beijing and possible winning a gold. Sports injuries happen, and athletes just have to take them and get on with life. From the Geelong Advertiser:
The sun sets on Nathan Deakes' Beijing Olympic hopes Sarah Bieske
July 22nd, 2008

IMAGINE being an Olympic walker.
Getting up at the crack of dawn almost every day of the year to condition your body for the punishment of the 50km walk.
Pounding the pavement.
Sweating. Groaning.
Spending hour upon hour in the gym.
Sacrificing. Striving.
Dreaming of winning an Olympic gold medal.
Aspiring. Wanting.
For the past decade, this has been Nathan Deakes' life. But yesterday, his dream was cruelly taken away from him.

When the Geelong Advertiser visited Deakes' at his base in Canberra last month, he was training close to eight hours a day in preparation for the Beijing Olympics. Despite his injury concerns, the Geelong-raised reigning world champion and holder of four Commonwealth Games gold medals and an Olympic bronze was favourite to win the 50km walk in China and one of Australia's few realistic gold medal hopes on the track. And he was confident all his hard work was about to pay off with the biggest prize.

"I've been working towards this for the last 10 years, almost exclusively in terms of a dream - probably ever since I started athletics when I was 10 years old," the 30-year-old explained. "Every kid dreams of achieving at the highest level, and for track and field, that's the Olympic Games."

After his world championship win in Osaka last year, Deakes knew there was a lot of expectation on his shoulders ... and his feet. But he was determined not to let it weigh him down. In fact, he was using it as inspiration for Beijing. "There's only 30 Australian Olympic track and field medallists - gold medallists we've got very, very few," he said. "To be the next gold medallist in track and field would be amazing, and definitely a dream come true. Although it (the expectation) is there, I don't feel it too much. My expectations are what I feel the most, and I know where I want to finish and where I should finish - and obviously that's first."

Such confidence came from the knowledge he and wife Antoinette had done everything in their powers to allow him to perform at his best in Beijing, including deferring his law degree and moving to the other side of the globe. "Your life is put on hold for this ... not just my life but Antoinette's life as well," he said. "So much of what she does is focused on what I do, and while she enjoys it as well, both our lives are on hold. We also made the sacrifice last year to base ourselves in Europe ... when I say sacrifice, it was a financial sacrifice. I'm racing against guys who earn hundreds of thousands of euros, and I lost my sponsorship two weeks after the world championships. So it is difficult. We almost live off the one wage, with Antoinette working full-time. Living in Europe, we had to live off our savings, but that was worth it and we wouldn't begrudge that for anything."

Because of his troublesome hamstring, Deakes told the Geelong Advertiser he had decided to ditch the 20km walk in Beijing to concentrate exclusively on the 50km event.

But he remained confident he would be able to compete. "Injuries have been pretty devastating for me this year, but I'm back into training and doing a little bit on the road. I've still got a bit to do, but I've still got the time, so I'm not too concerned at this stage. When I look at it that way it will be nice in a way that, for the 50km, (my most recent races) will be the world record, the world championships and, hopefully, Olympic gold."

As of yesterday, Nathan Deakes knows if he still wants that Olympic gold medal, he's got four more years of complete dedication ahead of him.



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