Spikes02 Sep 2015

Top of the world


Piotr Malachowski SPIKES

The story of Pawel Fajdek paying his taxi fare with his gold medal made global headlines, but not every world champ went out as hard as the Polish hammer thrower did. We find out how some of the heroes and heroines from Beijing spent the hours after their victories.

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie

Ghirmay Ghebreslassie Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“I simply came back from the stadium to the hotel with my teammates. In the evening I went to watch the 10,000m final to support my Eritrean teammates. I was really sad because they didn’t run well apart from Abrar [Osman, who was sixth]. Although I was very happy with my gold medal, it didn’t feel right to me to celebrate my win that evening.”

Joe Kovacs

Joe Kovacs Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“First up, I called by mum to tell her the news. USATF had a formal reception with a champagne toast for me and my coach, Art Venegas, in the lobby of the hotel. It was a great experience to be recognised by all. I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink so far in 2015 as I wanted to focus 100 per cent on training. It was only after I had what I thought was champagne did I realise it was in fact sparking apple juice, so I still haven’t had a drink in 2015.”

Tianna Bartoletta

Tianna Bartoletta Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“After arriving back to the hotel late after press conference and drug testing, I ordered room service. After a good performance it is a little tradition that I have a cheat meal and after perusing the menu I selected my first cheeseburger and French fries in months. I also had a celebratory drink – a Bailey's with my husband, John. I plan to celebrate continuously for a few days. It is my birthday tomorrow [Aug 30], so the celebrations will all be rolled into one.”

Christina Schwanitz

Christina Schwanitz Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“The first person I spoke to as soon as I got my phone back was my husband, Thomas. He is a huge help and such a great support for my career. He was almost crying on the other end of the phone. After doping [control] I went and had a couple of beers in the hotel with my coach, Sven Lang. I got to bed at 3am, it had been a long day as I’d go up at 5am to prepare for qualifying earlier that day. The beer I drank? My favourite – a Pilsner.”

Sergey Shubenkov

Sergey Shubenkov Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

"I got to the hotel after midnight, and my coach Sergey Klevtsov and my manager Pavel Voronkov were waiting for me in the lobby. Later, we were joined by the ARAF acting president Vadim Zelichenok, and a couple of other folks. We finished a bottle of wine between the three of us and I went to bed. However, I had trouble falling asleep, so I spent the whole night replying to congratulatory messages."

Danielle Williams

Danielle Williams Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“After press conference and anti-doping I got back to the hotel at midnight. I then had so many people trying to get hold of me – even people I haven’t been in contact with for ten to 15 years.  I don’t know how they got my number. I spoke with my auntie and my siblings, it was crazy. I also grabbed something to eat; chicken wings and rice. I went to bed at about 3am and had to be up the next day at 7am for a media interview back home in Jamaica.”  

Greg Rutherford

Greg Rutherford Beijing Celebrations SPIKES

“After drug testing and press conferences I came back to the hotel around midnight. Unfortunately, there was no food left in the dining hall so I was given a plate with some leftovers. Afterwards I went to my room, FaceTimed my family and checked messages. I couldn’t sleep and was up until 4am. There was no drinks or party that night.”

Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk Beijing Celebration SPIKES

“I made the mistake after the race to lie down and could not get back up again. I was fine, but I had to adhere to medical protocol so I had to go to hospital and then to dope-testing. It was only when I returned back to the hotel at 1.30am that I could begin to take in what I had achieved. My coach and agent were with me and they had a drink of champagne to celebrate my success, but I don’t drink alcohol so I had a coke. I plan a proper celebration when I return back to South Africa at the end of the season.”