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Olympic justice for Goldie

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Sitting on a train in Taunton eating a cheese ploughman’s sandwich – it is far from how she envisaged it happening back when she was a budding athlete, but Goldie Sayers can at last call herself an Olympic medalist.

JUSTICE: Goldie Sayers
JUSTICE: Goldie Sayers

It is almost 10 years to the day that the Newmarket javelin thrower broke the British record inside the Bird’s Nest Arena in Beijing.

Her distance of 65.75m would usually have been more than enough to medal, but she missed out on bronze by a fraction and had to settle for fourth spot.

Yet, almost instantly there was the suggestion of foul play surrounding silver medalist Mariya Abakumova. And when Russia was found guilty of state-sponsored doping, those doubts only intensified.

Abakumova pleaded her innocence, but a re-testing of her Beijing urine sample flagged up the banned steroid Oral-Turinabol.

This was in 2016, but former King’s Ely School pupil Sayers was still made to wait a further 16 months before the Russian athlete’s appeal was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport late last week.

Sayers, who retired last year, is well aware her life could have been much different had she rightfully been able to stand on the podium a decade ago, yet she is refusing to be consumed by a lingering bitterness.

“It is nice to be able to call myself an Olympic medalist,” said the 36-year-old.

“It has looked likely for a little while but I did not want to get my hopes up in case Abakumova got off on a technicality.

“There is still a process to go through in terms of getting the medal, but it is closer.

“I did struggle for a few months after Beijing. It was a case of wondering ‘what more do I have to do?’

“Maybe I pushed too hard and that caused some of the injuries I had. Emotionally it did take its toll.

“Financially getting a medal at the time would have been worth a fair amount and there was a home Olympics coming up. I missed out on the confidence that being an Olympic medalist would bring going into that.

“But now there is no point being bitter. In a way I have been lucky because there are probably quite a few athletes out there who have been denied medals because samples have not be re-analysed.

“I am refusing to be negative about it. I want to have a big celebration once I get the medal. This is not just about me, it is about my coach and everyone that supported me.”