ON TUESDAY last week Harrow AC star Dean Macey announced his retirement from athletics after he failed to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing. Just days after the curtain came down on the decathlete's illustrious 15-year career, he spoke to reporter DAVID BAKER about his highs and lows and his plans for the future.
WHEN Dean Macey woke up following the disappointment of missing out on next month's Olympics and struggled out of bed with an array of ailments, he knew it was time to throw in the towel.
He knew his body could no longer endure the intense pressure of the 10-sport discipline and his injury-plagued career was destined to end.
But far from feeling rested and relieved since the decision, Macey admits retirement is not all it is cracked up to be.
The 30-year-old said: "It's crap. At the moment I can barely walk and I'm struggling to move around.
"Retirement might feel a bit better if I was 60 and giving up work for good, but unfortunately I can't afford to just stop working altogether.
"I suppose the strangest thing is that every morning since the announcement I have woken up and thought 'should I go for a jog or get on the bike or do some circuits?'
"It was a difficult decision to make because I'm confident I could still make the teams at major championships, but I can't ignore the fact I just don't believe I can stay healthy enough."
Ever since he first stamped his authority on the sport with a silver medal win in the 1999 World Championships in Seville, as a virtual unknown, it has been this difficulty staying healthy that has dogged his career and provided many of his lowest moments since turning professional.
The 'Dean Machine' said: "I'm a very proud man and quite honestly I'm a pretty hard guy too, so having to keep going to my doctor or physio to say I was hurt again was, for me, very embarrassing.
"I always swore blind I wouldn't take the mick out of those who helped me get to where I did, so as my body found it tougher and tougher to cope I found it harder to ask for help.
"Being injured is awful and you go through some low periods but up until the very last competition I never, for one second, believed I wouldn't secure the points needed to win."
Unfortunately, yet more injuries in his final meet meant a third successive assault on the Olympics was not to be, keeping that elusive medal out of reach yet again.
In 2000 a personal best in Sydney was not enough to clinch a medal as he earned fourth place, while he was just pipped to a podium finish four years later - when he repeated the feat in Athens.
The Canvey-born star, said: "Coming fourth in 2000 was absolutely devastating. I felt in great shape and when I didn't quite get a medal I was inconsolable. It felt like the end of my life.
"In 2004, however, I should have come 10th or 12th. So while another fourth place finish was difficult to take I couldn't really complain.
"I personally thought it was going to take a long time to look back on my career, especially at those Olympics, favourably, but I can already look at it and think 'I had some absolutely fantastic times'."
One of the best in fact came just two years ago when he claimed gold in the Commonwealth Games - a title he admits he thought long and hard about defending.
"London 2012 was never in my mind, I knew it wouldn't happen, but I would be lying if I said I didn't think a bit about the Commonwealth Games. Melbourne produced one of my fondest memories and, of course, it would have been nice to defend my title.
"Those games and my world championship success in Seville were incredible and of course I'll miss nights like that.
"I came close to retiring a couple of times, but I know now I have made the right decision at the right time.
"It would have been great to go out with a bang, but unfortunately I went out with two - one in my left groin and one in my right."
But once he gets over his latest injury problems it won't be long before he is back in the gym as he looks to finish a personal training course he is undergoing.
He is also keen to get involved with the media and hasn't ruled out some coaching.
He said: "Although I do get hurt a lot I have always stayed in great shape so at the moment I am doing a personal training course. It is difficult to give that kind of a training regime up so I don't know if I'll ever manage to escape it completely.
"I'm also hoping to stay in the sport in some capacity, perhaps with the media or coaching. To be honest at the moment I am pretty open to all avenues.
"As much as I would love for that to include a return to my club in Harrow to help out, it would be a difficult thing to keep doing because it is so far away.
"But I have a lot of time for the club and I have been extremely proud and lucky to represent them since 1996.
"It is a club that is still very close to my heart and it always will be."
December 12, 1977 - Born in Rochford, Essex.
1994 - Gives up football, despite being on the books at Arsenal, to train for the World Junior Championships.
1996 - Joins Harrow Athletics Club
1999 - Wins silver at the World Championships in Seville, Spain, with a personal best of 8,556 points.
1999 - Winner of the inaugural BBC Sports Personality of the Year Young Personality award.
2000 - Records another personal best of 8,567 points at the Sydney Olympics, but finishes fourth.
2001 - Improves on his PB again with 8,603 points to scoop bronze at the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.
2002-2004 - Injury prevents him competing in the Commonwealth Games on home soil in Manchester, and keeps him out for nearly two years.
2004 - Having qualified for the Olympics in Athens with the B standard, he finishes fourth for a second time.
2006 - Tops the rostrum at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, claiming a memorable gold. [
July 15, 2008 - Retires from athletics following his failure to qualify for Olympics in Beijing.