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Defending champion Deakes out of world titles

12 June 2009

Reigning world champion Nathan Deakes will not defend his 50km race walk world title in Berlin in August, today announcing his withdrawal from the Australian team for the 2009 IAAF World Championships.

Deakes has been unable to return to competition since undergoing surgery on his left hamstring in July last year, an injury which ruled him out of the Beijing Olympics.

Although his recovery and training has been progressing well, the 31-year-old has decided he has not reached a point in his training where he can line up on the start line in Berlin and be competitive.

After discussions with his coach Craig Hilliard and AIS head coach Tudor Bidder, it was decided yesterday that he would not attempt a return to competition this year.

A disappointed Deakes said that he had basically run out of time in his preparations to have a realistic chance of successfully defending his world title.

“It was definitely a tough decision. I feel like I could go and do quite well, but I just don’t feel I could go and do as well as I want to.

“To do justice to turning up as defending champion, and all the extra baggage that comes along with that, I don’t think I could just go and roll in for 15th or 20th spot.”

Deakes has been hampered by hamstring trouble for the last four years, but it was a number of other related injuries which caused hiccups to his preparation this year.

“In terms of my hamstring and repair that’s really good… I’m moving forward, it’s just a matter of getting my body used to the load and training out on the road again.

“I came back really quickly and I was well ahead of schedule which gave me really good hope. I thought I was going really well, and then around March I had a little bit of a setback with my abductor, which took me a little bit to get over.

“The last few weeks I’ve set myself little goals in training which I was achieving, but earlier this week I had a minor set back with a tight hip and I fell behind the eight ball.

“Realistically I needed a year where I didn’t have any problems. Unfortunately it never seems to be the case with me and it obviously wasn’t the case this year.

“In terms of longevity for my career it’s the best situation to stay home and keep training rather than prepare for a major championship in two months time."

Deakes is giving no thought to retirement, with next year’s World Walking Cup and Commonwealth Games firmly in his sights.

He also admits that the Olympic Games beacon is still burning brightly ahead of London 2012.

“The last two years have been very frustrating. I haven’t been able to do what I wanted to do, to get out there and race and do my best.

“In terms of the next few years, I want to keep going on again next year, the World Cup in May and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi will be my primary focus.

“It will be a year-to-year proposition at this stage. London, whilst its still three years off, will roll around very quickly. Whilst the mind is willing it’s probably up to the body at this stage.”

The former world record holder has been a force on the world race walking scene for over a decade, despite his ongoing battles with injury.

A four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Deakes won the bronze medal in the 20km at the 2004 Athens Games but was heartbreakingly disqualified in the 50km event when leading at the 34km mark.

In 2007, in the sweltering Osaka heat, Deakes etched his name into history as Australia’s fifth world champion.

Although Deakes withdrawal is a blow to the Australian team, the depth in Australian race walking will stand up to the challenge with the highly-credentialed trio of Olympic silver medallist Jared Tallent, Luke Adams and Chris Erickson set to fly the flag in the 50km event in Berlin.

The trio depart for Europe this weekend, ahead of the next leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in La Coruna, Spain on June 20.

The walkers will then head to St Moritz in the Swiss Alps for a stint of altitude training before putting the finishing touches on their preparations for Berlin.

Athletics Australia 

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