Merton athlete is aiming for more Olympic glory, 16 years after his golden moment
Fidelis Gadzama won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games, and now he is looking to repeat the feat some 16 years later.
The Merton athlete, running for Nigeria, won silver in Sydney in the 4x400m at the age of 20 years old.
His medal was promoted to gold last year after the victorious US team was stripped of first place when athlete Antonio Pettigrew was found guilty of taking a performance enhancing stimulant.
Gadzama did not compete in Athens, and withdrew from the Beijing Games in 2008 through injury.
But now, at 34 years old, the Labour councillor for Cannon Hill is gunning for a spot in the starting line for the 400m in Rio.
He said: “I had tendonitis and I was on and off so pulled out of Beijing to get myself treated, but my body is beginning to react better now unlike it was before.
“Now my injury is almost gone I have started training again. We will see how my body goes, see if I can deal with the trials, and then maybe go to Rio.”
Looking back at his achievements in the Olympics, Gadzama marvelled at the battle to eventually obtain the gold medal that had eluded him for 13 years.
“It took a little battle for my country to come to terms with a giant like America, unlike Britain they have a zero tolerance on drugs.
“When Pettigrew was exposed I was glad about his admission and that he had no defence. We won a little battle.”
He compared Pettigrew’s use of performance enhancing drugs to gaining an 80m head start in a 400m race.
“I do feel cheated when someone beats you using steroids it is painful, it’s like starting at 320m.
“We got our justice finally but it took time. We just kept our fingers crossed and waited for the outcome, at the time we thought that was it but we got it.”
However, the father of four wants to put the past behind him and believes he has a mission to complete by competing in Brazil.
“I feel like in my mind I’m not totally done, I still believe I have to accomplish something, I have a mission that is not complete yet,” he added.
“If I can encourage some youngsters to take up the sport along the way, then all the better.”