Duncan Mackay

By Chris Maddocks - 15 June 2009

You should write a book – how many people have that suggested to them at sometime in their life? My guess at least, is that most retired international sportspeople will have had that rather teasing, tempting comment thrust upon them by some well meaning friend, relative or mischievous joker who wants to know what really happened, what it really felt like.

Misguided or not, I picked up the literary baton and recklessly ran with it (more accurately walked with it) following a 20 year Olympic competitive career that got off to a stuttering start in 1980 and ended in spectacular fashion in Sydney 2000.

 The words of my first book are almost done. It’s been hard, it’s been slow, but I’m getting there…and before some wag jumps in and suggests much like your Olympic career then, I can, in some prickly defence, proudly recall winning a few national and international races. This and much more as they say, is told in a semi-autobiographical novel with a working title of "Money Walks".

Time will tell as to whether or not my manuscript gets published and is either well received or takes the scenic route to the bargain bin at your local bookstore. Either way, it has been an interesting experience revisiting all those memories that for the most part I can cherish while others have taken me back to dark places I would have preferred remained more distant. Hey, that’s life.

Contacting people who feature in my story has been a surprisingly uplifting experience. Characters in my book are based on real persons who generally have had their names changed to fictional ones; not all, but most. So far, and without exception, all those kind folk including other athletes, coaches, and media related people (including the author of this website) have given me their blessing and encouragement to go ahead. Early indications are that I’m unlikely to make much money out of this proposed book as most want in return a free signed copy.

So, what’s it all about? Answer: a British race walker. Okay, so I’ve possibly lost at least half the readers of this blog at this point. Sorry Duncan, maybe they’ll hear about it later.

Set in the year 2000, it tells the story of the attempts of the main character (me!) to qualify for Sydney and the events leading up to and beyond the Games. While holding down two low paid part-time jobs and barely scraping a living, much of his training is done around the rugged landscape of Dartmoor in Devon. In spite of it being the sixth consecutive Games that he’s qualified for and the fifth selection, he’s not having an easy time of it. Unfunded, unheralded, arguably too old, his life is a bit of a mess.


The sport comedy/romance underdog story has been told before in various guises with various clichéd endings. I don’t believe this one falls into that tired category.

Historical elements are told in prose, interviews, dialogue and flashback, and represents a true and accurate reflection of actual events. For example, I ran my first marathon when I was 10 years old. Okay, I was a cub scout doing a sponsored walk and at a time long before health and safety issues were more prominent and such madness frowned upon. But, natural competitive instincts ensured that I had to win it.


As a teenager I ran and walked competitively, combining my love of playing football and rugby, still doing crazy sponsored events like our town’s annual 50 mile walk which I did six times winning the last two; not necessarily the best grounding for the Moscow Olympics, but I still did more orthodox competitions.


altWinning an International 50 kilometres race in Poland in April 1980 in a new British record and qualifying time by over three minutes had given me a great chance of competing on the greatest of all stages. Back then, I didn’t truly understand why the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan could have repercussions that would so adversely affect a naïve athlete from Devon, but it was no less heartbreaking.

Breaking more British 50km records in 1983 and 1984 saw me get my Olympic chance in Los Angeles. The Games were wonderful and lived up to all my hopes, dreams and expectations. Finishing 16th in 100 degrees heat, the race itself was hell however.

After graduating from Exeter University in 1986 and competing weeks later in Edinburgh at the Commonwealth Games finishing fourth in the 30km walk, I had planned to retire and try and get a good job. I’m still trying.

My sporting swan-song finally came in Sydney with an unexpected finale. Much of my experiences at my final Games I have tried to articulate in my recent writings. Without wishing to give my manuscript the kiss of death, I will say that they were an amazing spectacle and, with due deference to Beijing, still arguably the best Olympic Games ever.


For me personally, I had problems from the start. But, from the time I arrived at the Gold Coast training camp and belatedly meeting up with the rest of the British athletics team until the end of the Games, few things were predictable though ultimately so overwhelmingly memorable…which is quite handy when when you want to write about it years later.


Chris Maddocks is the only male athlete to have represented Britain in five Olympic Games. He retired from international competition after finishing last in the 50km race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney because he was suffering from a hamstring injury. He finished more than an hour behind the winner but was given a standing ovation by a crowd of 100,000. HIs gutsy performance was rewarded with Ron Pickering Memorial Award at the annual dinner of the British Athletics Writers' Association. He still holds a number of British records, including the 10km and 50km


Looking forward to reading it Mad max!You've certainly lived in
interesting times!
By Old rival

15 June 2009 at 20:06pm

Looking forward to the read. Don't take any longer as my eyesight
is starting to suffer!
Mad Mick!
By Michael Lane

15 June 2009 at 23:07pm



16 June 2009 at 09:03am

Get a move on mate by the time you finish there will not be any
trees left to print it on!! only joking, JR Hartley eat your
heart out!!
By peter younger better looking brother

16 June 2009 at 17:39pm

Look forward to reading your prose but not looking forward to any
references... if they turn it into a film, have you contacted Tom
Cruise to play you as the lead?!!
By Rocky

16 June 2009 at 19:04pm

Rambo   ...you are a true inspiration to athletes, a legend in
the walking fraternity and an example to all , look forward  to
hearing of your life  expliots ... hope the youth of today can
read this and take your wisdom on board ... good luck in your
By George NIBRE

16 June 2009 at 20:24pm

Well done chris looking foward to reading it always remember your
words of encouragment as a young senior ,sensible Robert(as
apposed to mad mick haha)
By robert heffernan

17 June 2009 at 08:37am

This will make a pleasant change from all those "hardship"
biographies from the pampered Premiership soccer players. Bring
it on.
By Bello

17 June 2009 at 20:03pm

This will make a pleasant change from all those "hardship"
biographies from the pampered Premiership soccer players. Bring
it on.
By Bello

17 June 2009 at 20:03pm

I would walk 500 miles. . . . to read this book.
By Topsy Turner

17 June 2009 at 20:26pm

Should be a great read Chis - you provided one of the all time
great Olympic moments in Sydney 2000. Good Luck
By Greg Bowman

18 June 2009 at 00:33am

all those years of using that slate board and piece of chalk
haven't been wasted chris....truely inspirational and a winner,
well done bro.
By The Grey Wonder number uno bro

18 June 2009 at 07:01am

I was present to witness the 'heroic' effort by Chris in Sydney,
on an extremely hot day. Several athletes infact dropped out of
the race, so a great effort for Chris to finish and for everyone
to appreciate what the Olympics are all about.
By Dave Fox

18 June 2009 at 08:21am

Well done Chris.  Looking forward to reading your book.  I work
with The Grey Wonder!  I've turned grey overnight!
By Sailor Sam

18 June 2009 at 09:48am

Excellent news Cliff.  I have been waiting many years for a
solution to those twin ills of insomnia and incontinence.  I hope
the book is thick and absorbing.  I am sure, knowing you, it will
By Phil the Manager

18 June 2009 at 19:40pm

As one of the privileged few to have seen extracts from Chris's
manuscript, I can faithfully report that it is funny, insightful
and evocative.  Can't wait to see it in print - this is a story
that should be told.
By Fi (fiancee and fancies herself as a literary critic)

20 June 2009 at 08:37am

Wonderful?  Having known you now for so many years I am very
pleased that as you approach old age you have now added this
string to your bow, or should that be stick.  Looking down the
blogs it is really good to see so many well wishers.  I am
particularly delighted that Phil continues to guide you with
relevant, insightful and practical advice.  Well done mate I'm
really looking forward to it.  Will it be available as a
By Mike

21 June 2009 at 17:31pm

3am, delivering milk 2000. I turn on Radio 5 for my nightly fix
of the Sydney Olympics. My heart somersaults as I hear a very
excited athletics commentator describe the 'final 400m of this
unbelievable 50km performance from Chris Maddocks'. I stop the
van, and for about a minute, with the roar of the people in the
stadium combining with the poor AM reception and my romantic
notion that 'even an injured, old underdog has a chance' I
convince myself that he's got a medal!
Alas - I had the wrong end of the stick and he was at the wrong
end of the race, but thanks Chris for a sporting memory that I
will never forget.
Good luck!
By name

25 June 2009 at 12:32pm

Well done on yet another example of your typically consistent
determination to see a task done to the best of your ability,
this time in this new field of life. Looking forward to reading
Money Walks and to finding out the real secret behind those
By Niobe

25 June 2009 at 13:25pm

I know how long you have been working on this Chris so I hope
that it is as successful as it should be. Does the star of the
novel marry a lovely lady in Septetmber? Nice to see the Isle of
Man behind your head!
By Murray Lambden

25 June 2009 at 18:46pm