Daniel Awde on the agony of abandoning an Olympic Decathlon

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It was the first day of the England Athletics Combined Events Championships in the EIS in Sheffield today. One multi-eventer who, due to suffering from injury in the Olympics, had to watch the rest of the athletes compete from the stands today, was Daniel Awde.

The decathlete has not got the easiest of years lying behind him. Finishing with 7516 points in the 2008 Beijing Olympics he described the four years leading up to London 2012 as “rocky” but “mostly uphill!” He explains: “Hampered by a stress fracture in the beginning of 2009 and then towards of the end of the year damaging my knee, turned into something that just simply wouldn’t go away.”

The knee is what subsequently is keeping him from competing this weekend, but even worse last summer, turned out to destroy his hopes of success in the home Olympics. Scoring 8102points in Tenerife in May was a huge relief for the London athlete ahead of the Games.

“I wanted to make a mark! I wanted to establish myself in the Decathlon world. My main goal was to finish at least in the top 8 and to put on a great show for the home crowd.”

It all started off perfectly for the 24-year-old, smashing his 100m PB, running 10.71sec in the first event of the two day long challenge that is the decathlon. Tragically, the second event long jump also symbolised the last one for Daniel, when his knee injury forced him to pull out of the competition.

He vividly recalls the minutes after leaving the stadium: “We went straight into the medical room after the long jump; I was in agony and couldn’t put any weight through my knee at all. After the second jump I already knew I was in trouble.  

The team doctor came in and had a look, the only solution was to inject a local anaesthetic around the knee cap and hope that it numbs the pain. When this had no effect I was screaming at the doctor to inject it straight into the tendon – all I wanted was to get back out there and compete! I remember worrying about the longer I was in this room, the less time I had to warm up for shot.”

The doctor had the presence of mind to refuse giving in on Daniel’s hasty demand, because injecting straight into the tendon would have increased the risk of a full rupture drastically. Daniel knew: ”If I carried on I was putting my career on the line. The doctor looked at me with the most stern and solid looking face I think I ‘ve ever seen and said “Daniel, no… ” The instant he said that, I just broke down. Some close friends were working at the Games and were able to see me in the medical room. They were able to get my mum in to see me. I just about got myself together at one point, but when she walked in through the door, it set me off again. It was hard.”

Since then, Daniel has had surgery and is looking positively towards the next few years. With decathletes normally peaking in their late twenties, the 24-year-old has all reason to do so and proves his fighter attitude once more: “I’ll bounce back and come back ten times stronger. Hopefully, by the time Rio 2016 rolls around, you will see the peak of what I can offer… Hopefully!

“I ‘d love to go there and redeem myself, to put my demons to rest and attempt to accomplish what I feel I can do.”