Armidale's Jay Stone, a world champion indoors athlete, took fourth place in the 400 metre race (35 – 39 age group) at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Málaga, Spain, last month.
Mr Stone – who is also Armidale Athletics club president and coach – had dreamt of being gold medallist in the 200 and 400 metre races.
An old injury put paid to those dreams.
Gold in Spain seemed a likely prospect.
Mr Stone won two gold medals in the 200 and 400 metre races (35-39 age group) at the World Masters Athletics Championships Indoor in Daegu, Korea, last year.
He was declared reigning champion in those categories. He is also the Australian record holder in these events.
He also won gold at the World Masters Games in Auckland for the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay (30-34 age group).
"I set my sight on winning the gold medal at the outdoors," Mr Stone said.
“I'd done a year-long training program to build towards it. It was all trending in the right direction, until I got injured. It was probably my own fault, to be honest – just trying to push the envelope a little too far, and overdid it.”
He was brought low by a hamstring injury sustained in Fiji, which affected his performance at the 2016 World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, where he finished third in the 400 metre race.
"It had calmed down, but then I flared it up in training before I went,” Mr Stone said.
“When I got over there, I raced in the 200 metre heat, and I qualified through to the the semi-final, but my leg pulled up quite sore.
“I decided to withdraw from the 200 metre. Running that faster event – a much higher intensity sprint – seemed to be aggravating my hamstring a lot more, so I was hopeful it would make through the 400 metre, which is a lower intensity race.”
His decision not to run in the semi-final or the final of the 200 metre gave Mr Stone three days to recover.
“I lined up in the 400 metre, and I made it all the way to the heat, and the semi-final into the final, then the final.
“I was lucky enough to finish fourth in the world. I was pretty happy with that in the end."
He regrets, though, that he wasn’t in peak condition.
"It was disappointing to see the time that won the world title in Spain was well within my capabilities, and the kind of time I'd done many times in the past,” Mr Stone said.
“If I'd been fit and healthy, and in the shape I was hoping, I probably could have taken gold – but given the challenge I faced in the lead-up, and everything that went on, I was very happy to finish fourth.”
Mr Stone’s next goal will be to defend the world indoor title over the 200 and 400 metres at the World Masters Athletics Championships Indoor at Toruń, Poland, next year.
“I want to acknowledge and thank all the people who helped me along the way to get over to Spain, and the support I got here from the local club and my training partners,” Mr Stone said.
“A big thank you to all of them; I couldn't have got the result without them!"
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