Sayers’ emotional medal ceremony a victory for clean sport

It's been far, far too long in coming, but Goldie Sayers finally has her hands on the Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medal.

Nearly 11 years after a javelin throw of 65.75m initially earned a fourth-place finish in China, the 37-year-old received her deserved bronze in front of a huge crowd at the London Anniversary Games.

The London Stadium audience were vociferous in their appreciation for Sayers, an outspoken critic of drugs cheats who has her place in podium history after Russia’s Mariya Abakumova was retrospectively disqualified for doping.

The ceremony was a touching moment for all those who strive for clean sport but mostly for Sayers, moved to tears with her Team GB kit on and God Save the Queen ringing out.

“It’s just very, very overwhelming – it’s really difficult to take it all in,” said Sayers, whose first-round throw in the Bird’s Nest stadium 11 years ago had set a national record.

“I said to myself that the one thing I would do is take it all in, and you still don’t somehow!

“I was standing behind the rostrum and I nearly lost it a little bit at that point, I saw 100 of my friends and family in the crowd and it was a lovely, lovely, special moment.

“I’ve been really nervous all week and it’s strange, I don’t know why. I’ve got to say a few words to my friends and family and I do a lot of public speaking, but this has been the one speech it’s been impossible to write.”

On that bittersweet Beijing night 11 years ago, Barbara Spotakova took gold, Abakumova silver and Germany’s Christina Obergfoll bronze.

In 2016 a re-testing of samples revealed the Russian tested positive for the anabolic steroid turinabol, bumping both Sayers and Obergfoll up to their rightful places on the podium.

Re-testing of samples is becoming increasingly rigorous and due to retrospective bans, Britain’s Beijing medal tally in athletics now stands at eight rather than the original five.

The battle for clean sport continues but this was a weekend for celebration, with huge swathes of friends and family in Stratford to celebrate alongside Sayers.

She continued: “I think it’s really important to have retrospective medal ceremonies like this. I’m an eternal optimist and at least people are being caught, that’s the one positive.

“But I’d hope nobody has to go through this retrospective process in future, they no doubt will but it’s not worth it for the athletes cheating – they’ll never know how good they were.

“That’s the one of the main reasons I did the sport, to see how good I could be at something and at least this is vindication that I was alright at chucking a spear once!”

Sportsbeat 2019