Sidcup's Steve Backley feeling the Olympic spirit
PUBLISHED: 17:49 02 August 2012
For all he has achieved in a long and illustrious career Sidcup-born Steve Backley is adamant being the only British track and field athlete to win medals at three different Olympics is his proudest achievement.
And he is delighted with the way the first few days of the first London Olympics for 64 years have gone.
The javelin-thrower said: “It was great to be part of the opening ceremony because I haven’t even seen one on TV since 1984.
“It’s been a bit of a slow start for Team GB but hopefully things will pick up when the athletics get under way tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Backley won bronze in the 1992 Games in Barcelona, and he followed that with silvers in Atlanta and Sydney. The gold continued to elude him and he came up just short in Athens in 2004, finishing fourth in his final major competition.
He said: “Never winning a gold isn’t a big regret of mine. To win medals at three Olympics, considering the competitors within javelin at the time, was a remarkable effort.
“It is the greatest thing an athlete can do in their career and that Olympic record is something I’ll cherish until it gets broken, which hopefully won’t be for quite a while.”
The 43-year-old has spent the majority of his life in Bexley. He went to Beth’s Grammar, Bexley and his children go to West Lodge Primary, Sidcup.
The great Czech Jan Zelezny pipped Backley to the gold in 1992, 1996 and 2000 and was his nemesis for the majority of his career. He was also beaten by Zelezny in four World Championships on the way to two silver medals.
But the athlete insists he wouldn’t change anything and always relished competing for his country.
“It was an honour to compete against Jan and I honestly believe we spurred each other on to break records and win medals.
“I threw an Olympic record in the javelin final in 2000. But then he went and broke it again in the next round, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be!”
There is some gold on the Backley mantelpiece though, in the shape of four European Championships and two Commonwealth titles.
While he isn’t competing in London Backley is keeping busy enough. Alongside commentating for Radio 5 Live, he writes a blog for the Eurosport website as he tries to pass on some pearls of wisdom. That’s alongside running with the torch in Ramsgate and overseeing British javelin throwers such as Goldie Sayers, who he is going to advise on how to deal with injury during competitions.
Backley never went to the opening ceremony of a major championships to avoid getting distracted, but he admitted he might have changed his routine had he been competing in London.
“A home Olympics is always special,” he says. “For British athletes competing this summer I would say have a plan and execute it. You’ll feel worse for not making your dreams come true then you will if you try and fail.
“But most of all, enjoy it!”
“This opportunity will never come around again. All I know is that no matter what, this summer is going to be an unbelievable experience!”