When he crossed the line as World Para Athletics European T13 5000m champion this summer, David Devine (Tony Clarke, Liverpool Harriers) felt an overriding feeling of relief. Next, he had an eagerness to speak to his parents and his coach who steered him back on course to glory after an injury-laden few years restricted him from doing the sport he loved.
On his gold in Berlin, he reflected on those standout emotions: “It was just relief really. I’d got the silver in the 1500m earlier in the week and I really wanted to win that one to be honest, so for three days I was so hungry to race again. I was so glad to win the 5000m knowing all my hard work had paid off.
“I couldn’t wait to get off the track to call my mum and dad, and my coach. My mum and dad are two people who have had to go through all the injuries with me every single day, not just someone asking me every so often, ‘how are you getting on?’ They couldn’t have been happier to be honest; it was just a great moment for all of us.”
The road to European gold had been a testing one, as a major Achilles injury ruled him out for three straight years and he admits he was close to calling a day on his running career in the years following his double medal winning success at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“After being injured for so long, I lost my love for the sport. I was doing it because I was good at it, not because I was enjoying it.”
But, after having an injury-free past 18 months, he is enjoying the sport again and thriving in his training environment at Liverpool Harriers.
“I’ve run well this year because I’ve been injury-free. My coach Tony Clarke has made me enjoy running again. We went back to basics and started to enjoy the training sessions and the group I was running with.
He also pays a special tribute to his physio Ian Horsely. Devine says without his support and treatment over the difficult times, he would have quit the sport years ago. And he says that he is a big contributing factor for staying fit over the past year and a half.
“This year was the first time I’ve been back in shape really since 2012. I’ve spent the last two years trying to get back to fitness after the injuries, so this year has really been the one where everything came back together.”
Devine started out at Liverpool Harriers at the age of 15, popping down to sprinting training sessions with his brother. It wasn’t until the age of 17 that he got into distance running, and the rest is history.
The T13 800m and 1500m Paralympic bronze medallist is now running a much higher mileage than was required during his early 200m and 400m days, with 5000m very much is favoured event nowadays.
“I’m running about 70 miles a week, every week. I mean, that is unheard of for me. I was probably doing about high fifties last year, so my training has increased by about 20%. There have been no gaps in training.
“We have about 15 people in the group, ranging from all abilities but they are a great group to work with. It is great for motivation when you have other people working hard and it is not just you doing it on your own.”
With the world championships next year already his immediate focus, doubling up over 1500m and 5000m in Tokyo is the dream for Devine. As winter training hits full swing, Devine is laying the foundations to experience more moments of satisfaction like those in Berlin, in the years to come.