Ashwicken’s former Great Britain senior international David Heath is set for a comeback as a masters athlete.
Heath (50), who was the Lynn News Sportsman of the Year in 1999 and 1989, has suffered a heart attack and a broken foot and missed out on competing at a major championships on the track.
However he is set to be among the masters athletes heading to Beijing to take part in special summer races at the IAAF World Championships.
Heath is now based in France and coaches France’s 2013 European cross-country champion Sophie Duarte.
He made a return to the sport last year. “I decided at the start of the winter I was going to get fit and have some decent racing this summer, mostly 1500s and 5000s,” he told Athletics Weekly.
He heard in February that World Masters Athletics were inviting applications for top-class 50-plus runners to contest one of two races in Beijing this August – for women at 400m and men at 800m.
In March he ran 2:01.74 to secure one of the nine places for the 800m. He has since run 1:59.61 and is within a second of the world M50 record.
Heath remarked that in a competitive field as a junior he was not quite fast enough and was injured for much of his 20s, before aiming for a spot at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He added: “I wasn’t fast enough to be a world-class 800m runner when I was younger, although I was always dreaming of it and thought it was going to happen and I probably spent too long doing 800s rather than moving up.”
He ran 3:41.0 in 1989, when he broke four minutes for the mile. His 5000m PB was 13:47.95 in 1999.
In 1999 Heath won the gold medal in the 4,000m at the national cross-country championships which earned him automatic selection for the Great Britain squad. He appeared twice for GB, finishing 19th in the World Cross short-course race at the age of 33.
Heath’s 1999 Lynn News Sportsman of the Year award was an athletics one-two with Sportswoman Barbara Parker, who went on to compete at the Olympics.
His senior elite career was ended by a knee operation in 2001. Heath suffered a heart attack in 2002, and apart from a brief spell it was not until 2009 when he resumed running.
He added: “I’d put on a bit of weight and I was stressed from work. As always, once I started to get fit I wanted to get even fitter.”
Heath clocked 3:54.28 for 1500m in 2010, having just turned 45, to go top of the UK all-time rankings for the age group.
Heath then broke his foot and suffered other injuries, which kept him out of action until last winter. Now his sights are set on the world over-50 marks of 1:58.64 (800m), 4:05.2 (1500m), 4:25.04 (mile), 8:41.2 (3000m) and 14:53.2 (5000m).