March 25, 2013
At the 2013 Laureus Awards, one of the most emotional moments was Felix Sanchez’s acceptance speech having just won the Comeback of the Year Award. Back in 2008, at the Beijing Games, he won 400 metre gold. Then Felix suffered a series of injuries that kept him from attaining on-going success for years. Then, in 2012, he won Olympic gold once again.
Here, the 2013 winner of the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award talks to Laureus.com about what a sporting comeback really means.
Q: Congratulations on a wonderful success in London. Was that the highlight of your career?
I have had a Long carrer and yes it was one of the best moments in my career and just as important as my 1st Olympic Gold medal in 2004 but for different reasons.
Q: Can you compare your two 400 metres gold medals eight years apart?
My 1st Gold was very special obviously it was mine and my countries 1st Gold medal in the history of my country so it was special in that respect but having dominated my sport for almost 4 years and having not lost a race in 43 races it was all but a forgone conclusion. The one from London was as different as can be having not won a Major race in years and not being the favorite and not even being considered as a realistic medal hopeful. So to pull of such an upset after how hard I worked and after all the sacrifices I made last year I was more dedicated than ever knowing that it was my last real chance to win an Olympic medal after I had reached a point in my career where no one believed in me anymore to go in there against all odds and to run the exact same time 8 years later was the best feeling in the world!
Q: Was 2004 the better because it was your first; or 2012 because you were 34 when you won it?
If I had to choose 1 I would say 2012 because It is always better when you prove everyone wrong and attain victory.
Q: You were in tears when you won the gold medal in 2012 – did that show how important it was to you?
Yes my tears were a reflection of how hard I had worked and how long and hard the road back to the top was.
Q: Presumably you had to work a lot harder for 2012 as you were eight years older?
I had to work about 75% harder than the 1st one and it was all worth the sacrifice but it took an extreme amount of dedication.
Q: It was a very impressive run in the final. Did you have a game plan and stick to it?
Yes the Plan was to 1 not hit any hurdles and to not make any technical mistakes. then also to keep in touch with Taylor and Culson to hurdle 8 as I knew they would go off very hard and would have a lead up to that point but I also knew that they would be fading the last 100.
Q: What made things click last year?
I was able to train as hard as I did was able to maintain my weight and I was able to to stay injury free all but an injury I received but it only kept me out 2 weeks.
Q: Did you change anything?
I Changed almost everything. My diet, my warm up, my amount of training days, I started going to the gym, I started riding a road bike to get my cardio and mileage to keep stress off my joints and tendons and to try to prevent injury. It all seemed to work just right
Q: What happened to you between 2004 and 2012? Was it injuries?
simply put it was injuries and not being able to train enough and as a result my confidence was affected.
Q: Why is a Laureus Award so prestigious – is it because great champions have voted for you, like Edwin Moses, Michael Johnson, Sebastian Coe?
When you are trying to become a Legend and knowing that 46 Legendary athletes are involved and if they vote for you then it really makes you feel good and you realize how Prestigious an award it is.
Q: Of course Edwin Moses is one of the great 400 metres hurdlers, was he a role model for you? If not, who was your role model?
Yes of course when you want to be the best in a sport and in an event you always look to the past to see what the greats before you have achieved and from the start of my career I always aspired to achieve at least half of what Moses had.
Q: You have not retired and are carrying on running – what are your targets for 2013 and beyond?
I have not retired yet I still have one more thing I want to try and acomplish and that is to win another world championship medal this year in Moscow and most likely retire in 2014.
Q: Presumably Rio in 2016 is an Olympic Games too far? You will be 38 then. Will you have retired by then?
Yes I plan to be retired by then but I still want to go to Rio and be part of the Olympics it would be different to be there without the pressures of running.
Q: You dedicated the London win to your grandmother – why was that?
Well to me she was my motivation I kept running for her for 4 years in hopes to win one more medal for her as I lost her the morning of the 1st round in 2008 Olympic games. I was devastated and my dream was to win one more medal in her honor and the Olympic games was the perfect setting
Q: Have your family been important in keeping you going – especially in that gap between 2004 and 2012?
Yes they have as well as my friends that has always help encourage me to give my best always.
Q: You live in the USA, but how was your victory received in the Dominican Republic? Are you a national hero there?
I’m a Legend there and am now arguably the greatest athlete in the history of my country and hearing everyone say that fills me with pride.
Q: What are your favourite sports to watch or play other than track and field?
I love watching football, American and European. I also like watching the NBA and boxing.
Q: Other than your own achievements, what was your favourite sporting moment from 2012?
Watching Usain Bolt win 3 more Gold medals that was very amazing considering the tough competition he had with Blake and how difficult it is to do that as a sprinter.