Injury led runner to Mini Games win

Friday January 19, 2018 Written by Published in Other Sports
Alex Beddoes won a gold medal in the 800 metres at last month’s Vanuatu Mini-Games. 18011815 Alex Beddoes won a gold medal in the 800 metres at last month’s Vanuatu Mini-Games. 18011815

Cook Islands middle distance runner Alex Beddoes says his rehabilitation from a serious injury before the 2016 Olympics was responsible for putting him on the path that eventually led to a gold medal in last month’s Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu.

 

The young runner said that in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics he suffered a knee injury, tearing cartilage in two places, which set him back both physically and mentally.

“That really kind of hampered me last year, and it took quite a while to come back and feel confident after that,” Beddoes said.

However, he said that the key difference with this injury was that he recovered well, and the results of the strong training he was able to do were reinforced before the Mini Games when he raced in Auckland.

The Sacred Heart old boy recorded a winning time of 1 minute 57 seconds, and Beddoes and his coach realised he was actually in much better shape than they thought.

“After that I felt really confident going into Vanuatu, and winning the gold was definitely the aim going in.”

The 800 metre final featured 15 runners, twice the number that Beddoes was used to competing against in a race.

Initially the 22-year-old was unsure how he would navigate through the larger group, and his main worry was that he might get caught in the crowd and be tripped up.

“I was quite lucky that I managed to stay out of it. I got out quite hard and stayed near the front group in the first 200 metres.”

He managed to stay out of trouble, and clocked an impressive first lap time of 57 seconds, although he still had a couple of competitors to catch up with.

Fijian Petro Veitaqomaki and PNG runner Martin Orovo were the group leaders going into the second and final lap, but Beddoes says he knew the key was not to panic but to keep a cool head and have faith in his training.

 “There was a point just before the final 200 metre mark where I had bit of ground to make up on both of them.”

Overtaking Veitaqomaki, who eventually finished third, Beddoes managed to catch Orovo, and eventually overtake him to win the gold.

“I was a little bit in disbelief that I actually won. I was so focused about trying to get through the field, to pick off each guy as I went, it didn’t cross my mind until a few seconds after I finished.

But he adds; “It’s pretty cool.”

He says life hasn’t changed much since the win and his success has actually motivated him to work even harder.

“I don’t think I’ve ‘made it’ at all. I feel quite far off actually. That will keep me motivated, and after that I have other aspirations.”

One of the rising star’s goals is to race professionally and make a living from the sport, and based on his current track record, that could become a reality in the near future.

However, for now his primary focus for 2018 is the Commonwealth Games, to be held on the Gold Coast in April.

“Hopefully I can build off my success in Vanuatu. My friends and family know how hard I’ve been working and how much I want this.”

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