To mark the start of Black History Month we kick off a series of blogs from Team Scotland athletes with a fascinating look into the career of decathlete Jamie Quarry, bronze medallist at Manchester 2002. An inspirational reminder for young athletes that it takes years of effort to become an ‘overnight success’.
Over to Jamie…
“I was fortunate to enjoy a successful athletics career and will always be thankful for the opportunity to have been involved in something that I enjoyed as a hobby and a sporting career.
“I grew up in Crystal Palace, South East London and my athletics journey began when I started at Langley Park Secondary School, where I was inspired by passionate and dedicated PE teachers who motivated me as a young athlete and later helped shape my beliefs and values around my subsequent career in teaching.
“My PE teachers encouraged me to join my local athletics club, Blackheath Harriers, a vibrant and successful club within the local community. During my school years, I competed at six English Schools’ Track & Field Championships, winning three different events in different age groups (Junior Boys Triple Jump, Inter Boys 400m Hurdles and Senior Boys 110m Hurdles) and 33 years later, am just about hanging onto the Juniors Boys Triple Jump Championship Record of 13.86m set in 1987.
“My first major international competition, representing Great Britain in the Decathlon was at the European U20 Championships in Greece where I finished 7th. Like many other junior athletes at this stage, I endured a slow transition period from a junior to senior athlete and found this difficult to cope with as progress stalled, self-doubt crept in and motivation declined. After a couple of low-key years and indecision about what to do next, I enrolled at Brunel University and immediately thrived being in an environment and training with international sportspeople across many different sports. By the end of my first year at Brunel, I had won the Scottish indoor Heptathlon, broken the Scottish 110m Hurdles record at the national championships and represented Scotland at my first Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, finishing 8th, improving from 7018 to 7610pts.
“The next few years took an unexpected change in direction where I became part of the Great Britain Bobsleigh team, competing on the World Cup Circuit and at the World Championships in Calgary in the four-man event. These races still hold some incredible memories, including the biggest disappointment of my sporting career when I had a split second lapse of concentration and failed to get into the bobsled as it disappeared down the track without me and I walked back to the athletes area in tears at the feeling of letting my teammates down on the biggest stage.
“The Scottish Indoor Heptathlon record followed the following year in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, a uniquely memorable experience for different reasons, but turned out to be an anti-climax in terms of performance and competition where I was only the second Scot home, in 10th place behind Alexis Sharpe.
“The disappointment of 1998 was soon forgotten when the following year when I broke the Scottish indoor Heptathlon (5640pts) and Decathlon (7739pts) record within a few months of each other. That was to be as good as it would get in terms of personal best scores but the highlight of the bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games three years later in Manchester, 2002 was still to come. Winning Scotland’s first-ever decathlon medal at a Commonwealth Games was the highlight of my career and an unbelievably proud moment for everyone involved in contributing towards it. It was an occasion made more memorable, given that it was to be my last competition before retiring from athletics.
“Throughout my career, I was always incredibly proud to compete for Scotland and enjoyed competing regularly for Falkirk Victoria Harriers in domestic competitions. It was an honour to be made athletics team captain at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and ranks alongside being asked to address the CGF General Assembly in Sri Lanka on behalf of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games Federation delegation successful bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This culminated in being part of the Queen’s Baton Relay at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which was a wonderful personal experience and a privilege to witness first-hand, the delivery and success of the promised games.
“Since retiring from athletics, I have continued to remain physically active, through coaching, delivering on education courses, team managing and competing in challenging sports events. I challenge myself in road running races and more recently, triathlons up to and including ironman distances. I qualified as a PE teacher whilst at Brunel University and am currently Subject Leader for PE at a school in Lancaster where I have been for the past 12 years.
“Whilst there will always be things that I would have liked to have achieved or done differently, my years involved in athletics have afforded me so many opportunities for which I am enormously grateful. There were many years when I didn’t record personal bests or improve my overall combined events scores, achieve qualifying marks or gain selection for competition I had set out to compete in. It didn’t always go to plan but I’m glad that I stuck at it and continued to show character and resilience when things weren’t going well.
“The bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester was a combination of years of effort, perseverance and good fortune and my advice to any aspiring young athlete would be: Success doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient. Be persistent. Believe in the process and most importantly, believe in yourself.”