Fighting the good fight in athletics is one thing. Our sport promises nothing. If one works hard, if one challenges himself or herself, one can achieve levels unsuspected. That goes for someone breaking five minutes for the mile or 45 seconds for the 400 meters. The challenge of wanting to race, knowing one can perform better, IF only one can recover from injuries is, in itself, a level of athletic damnation that even Dante did not consider. Tim Benjamin, a World Champs bronze medalist at the 4 x 400 meters in 2003, announced his retirement July 20. His note is thoughtful and reminds us of what is good and noble in our sport:
Photos courtesy of Pacesetter management.
Photo courtesy of Pacesetter management.
Statement from Tim Benjamin –
“It is with both great sadness and excitement that I am announcing my retirement from athletics with immediate effect.
The injuries and illnesses I have endured over the last four years have been well documented, with my absence from last summer’s Olympics Games representing the pinnacle of disappointment and frustration.
Although this decision may seem sudden, it is the culmination of incessant setbacks. I have already talked about how my 2008 disappointment almost caused me to leave the sport, but I was determined to end my career on my own terms when the time arrived.
I feel incredibly proud that I have come back from a very difficult period in my life to achieve the qualifying time for the 2009 IAAF World T&F Championships and win the European Cup for my country. Taking an individual or relay spot in Berlin from an aspiring 2012 Olympian would be disingenuous and unfair when I am unable to enjoy competing the way I used to.
I must thank the many, many people who have supported me over the last decade. There are many, but most notably, my wife Natalie and family, my early coaches at Cardiff AAC, Jock Anderson, Tony Lester, Colin Jackson, all my training partners, my manager Ricky Simms and the team at PACE Sports Management. Most recently my collaboration with Linford Christie and his training group has been refreshing and enjoyable. I am thankful for the continued support I have received from Dave Scott and Nike – my long time sponsors.
Everybody at UK Athletics, in particular the medical team, has been fantastic. They have certainly had their work cut out with me but have never wavered in their support and dedication. I also thank all the media who reported on my performances over the years.
I am enormously grateful for the opportunities and friends this amazing sport has brought me and look forward to using the passion I have for it in another way in the near future.”
TIM BENJAMIN’S BIOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY –
Tim Benjamin has been one of Britain’s top 400m runners for the past 8 years. He ends his career as the 6th fastest British athlete of all-time behind such one lap greats as Iwan Thomas, Roger Black, Mark Richardson, David Grindley and Derek Redmond. His personal best of 44.56 secs was set in the IAAF World Athletics Final in Monaco in 2005.
2005 was the best year of his career. He placed 5th in the IAAF World T&F Championships in Helsinki, beat World No. 1 and Olympic Champion Jeremy Warnier and broke the 45 secs barrier for the first time to win the London Grand Prix. He ended the season ranked 2nd in the world after excellent performances in many of the major meets on the circuit.
Tim was an extremely talented junior who won his first national title in 1997 with the U17 indoor 200m while still only 14. His time of 21.74 secs was the world’s fastest for a 14 year old. He won the IAAF World Youth T&F Championships 200m gold in 1999 and later that year took a silver medal in the 200m and gold in the 4x100m in the European Junior T&F Championships. In 2000 he won bronze in the 200m in the IAAF World Junior T&F Championships in Chile and gold in the 4x100m in a European Junior record time. In 2001 the 200m specialist stepped up to 400m and in only his fourth race over the distance won the European Junior 400m title. To highlight a great Championships in Grosseto, Italy he went on to take 4x100m gold and 4x400m silver medals.
In 2002, his first year as a senior athlete, Tim won the AAA’s 400m title and helped Wales to the 4x400m bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He finished the season by placing 6th in the IAAF World Cup in Athletics in Madrid. His development continued in 2003 with a silver medal in the 400m in the European U23 Championships and bronze in the 4x400m in the IAAF World Indoor T&F Championships.
After winning the AAA’s 400m title, Tim made it to the semi-final of the individual 400m in the 2004 Olympic Games and was a member of the British 4x400m team that placed 5th. In addition to his coaches Tim was helped by having Olympic silver medallist Roger Black as a mentor as he established himself as Britain’s top 400m runner.
In 2006 he placed 6th in the European T&F Championships and won a silver medal in the 4x400m. In 2007 he placed 2nd in the European Cup and made it to the semi-final of the IAAF World T&F Championships in Osaka, Japan. Unfortunately an illness picked up in the middle of the season put him out of action for most of the 2008 season and forced him to miss the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Tim started 2009 in good form with wins in the European Team Championships and the Grand Prix in Torino but was hampered by a recurring hamstring injury as the season progressed.
For further biographical details see http://www.pacesportsmanagement.com/athlete_profile.asp?id=150
Special thanks to Ricky Simms, www.Pacesportsmanagement.com