ADAM Hickey admits he was in a “world of pain” as he dug deep within himself to help his Great Britain team win a bronze medal at the European Cross-Country Championships.
The 25-year-old Southend AC athlete picked off three crucial places in the closing stages of the 10 kilometre race in Belgrade, Serbia, to finish 25th overall in his first major championship in the senior ranks.
And that storming finish proved to be crucial as Hickey was Britain’s fourth and final scoring athlete, something he was made very aware of as he was out on the course.
“I knew we were in with a chance of a medal and that I was the fourth counter because I had Mick Woods (the GB team manager) and other people shouting at me out on the course,” said Hickey. “I knew I needed to pick people off.”
But that was easier said than done for Hickey who has revealed he was not feeling well during the race.
“It was a struggle,” he said. “I was in a world of pain but I didn’t want to go home without a medal.
“The pace was relentless. I knew that if I had gone off too fast I would have been in oxygen debt. I started to pick up but I really wasn’t feeling well.”
Despite feeling under the weather, Hickey moved through from 35th place after the opening 1.5km to inside the top 30 heading into the final kilometres of the multi-lap course in the Serbian capital.
And that’s when the shouts from the British supporters intensified as every position mattered in the fight for the medals.
At the head of the race, Britain’s leading runner Andy Vernon produced a stunning finish to come through for an individual bronze medal while Hickey showed bags of determination to get past three athletes to finish 25th.
“It was great,” he said. “We were told beforehand that we were unlikely to be in the shake-up for the medals so to come back with one is just quality.
“It was frustrating because there were four athletes just two seconds ahead of me. I would have liked to have been in the top 20 but I’m happy, it was one tough race.”
Hickey’s coach Eamonn Martin told the Echo last week that he expected his charge to be part of the Great Britain team for many years to come now.
It was his first race in a major championship since running in the World Cross Country Championships as a junior in 2006.
And Hickey wants to make sure his coach is proved right and he appears for his country regularly from now on.
“It was great to be back,” he said. “Even the little things like being away is fantastic and made me realise how much I have missed it. It has been a while!”
l Adam Hickey is looking for sponsorship help to take him on to the next level. If there is anyone or local business that could help him as he looks to push forward with his athletics career, contact Ryan Goad at the Echo sports desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will pass any information on.