CHORLEY teacher Stuart Stokes insisted the final act of his competitive athletics career would live with him forever after being waved off by a partisan British crowd at the Olympic Stadium.
On an opening day of action which featured GB’s golden girl Jessica Ennis with her multiple endorsements and sponsors left, right and centre, Stokes’ Olympic debut felt like the end of an athletics era.
Having missed out on selection for the last three Olympics, Stokes’ back story is a throwback to a different age and couldn’t be further removed from Ennis’ – with a full-time teaching job needed to be juggled with a young family and training.
Stokes himself admitted post race that the sacrifices of both himself and his wife Gemma and young family Harrison, three, and Leah, one, had been many.
And with that in mind the 35-year-old insisted he only had eyes for the positives of his debut Games experience – despite failing to make it out of the 3000m steeplechase heats. Stokes finished 12th in eight minutes 43.04 seconds.
“I have no complaints and no regrets,” said the teacher at Holy Cross Catholic High School. “It has been a long and tough journey just to get here and a long, tough year this year.
“But I am going to walk off with my head held high because I couldn’t have done any more in the run up to this.
“I am 35, I’m a full-time teacher and I have two kids so life is pretty hectic when you are training two or three times a day most of the time.
“As an athlete we always analyse our performance but as that is probably the last time I will have a pair of spikes on in my life I just want to walk off and say I did my best out there and in the build up.
“It’s unfortunate I didn’t put in a slightly better performance but I promised myself before this that I would just remember how I got here and why I am here.”
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