Silver lining to a quick Brazil exit for Rocky athlete
WITH a plane out of the country to catch, Alan Stacey had to step on it.
Australian Masters athlete and Rockhampton Grammar School teacher Stacey was racing around the tartan track in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in his final event of the 20th annual World Masters Athletics Championships last month.
More than that, he was racing to get a flight back to Australia. Competing in the gruelling over-50 men's 4x400m relay, along with Australian teammates Rob Mayston, Collin Smith, and Allan Cook, Stacey collected the baton in the second change and charged for home.
"From there it was run and hope. You don't want to be the one to let the team down," Stacey said.
"I was running scared almost, I suppose. If you're coming fifth or sixth it doesn't really matter, but if you're coming second when you get the baton, the pressure is on.
"Very few athletics events are team events so I think we'll have that bond for life now. I didn't know the guys before we raced, but we've been in contact since we've been back. It's a special thing."
In the back of his mind, an 8pm flight - the first of a 50-hour journey back to Rockhampton - was helping the 50-year-old turn on the pace. Moments after the race finish, Stacey had collected his luggage and was in a taxi to his hotel and racing down a highway - at about 150km/h - towards Porte Alegre's airport.
Thankfully, he arrived and checked-in for his flight five minutes before the cut-off.
"We ended up winning the silver medal but I couldn't stay for the presentation," Stacey said. "I said 'I'm going to miss my flight' so I ended up signing it (my medal) out with the officials.
"It's my first medal. I wasn't leaving without it. They were going to give it to my team manager but I said I'm in Rockhampton, I wouldn't get it for a month so I got it there and then."
After a 10th place finish in the final of the 800m, Stacey made the final of his pet event, the 1500m, but a less than ideal run ensured he missed out on a medal.
Qualifying sixth fastest for the final, Stacey got stuck in behind eventual race winner and eventual relay teammate Allan Cook and couldn't make his move, finishing 13th.
Head of Physical Education at RGS, Stacey said he was unsure about competing at the 2015 world championships in Lyon, France, but said he would be lining up at the start line in Perth the following year.
"That has spurred me on. If anything, Sacramento in 2011 put some doubt in my mind. I'd asked myself 'can I actually match it with them?' and then after making the final in the 800m this time, which I hadn't really trained for, I thought I was up to it," he said.
"I'm very keen to go along in a couple years and win an individual medal. A gold. I tell my wife I'll keep going until I'm 103."