RW Interviews: Marlon Devonish

Few athletes have competed in as many Commonwealth Games as sprinter Marlon Devonish. Heading to his fourth Games this year, Devonish has made history at these championships - he is co-holder of the Commonwealth record for the 4x100m men's relay, set in 1998. With more than 16 years' experience of competing at World Championships and a mighty medal stash, Devonish is determined to return the current relay team to form at Delhi.  

This will be your fourth Commonwealth Games - what does the championships mean to you this time round?

Quite a lot actually. At the beginning of the year my focus was on the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games were more of an afterthought, in the nicest possible way. But the way that things have panned out I was injured earlier on the year and it set my season back a bit later. So the Commonwealth Games have taken on a real significance for me.

What will it be like racing in October, when your season is usually over?

I'm slightly gutted that they are taking place in October. It's normally rest and recuperation for me then, so it has been difficult trying to prepare when normally I'd be on my break, chilling out and looking ahead to the following year. But I'm looking forward to it and it's always a great experience. It's second to the Olympics when it comes to multi-sports championships games.

What are you hoping to achieve at the Commonwealth Games?

I've medalled in pretty much all the Commonwealth Games I've taken part in, so I'd like to be coming home with at least one medal from these Games.

Were you disappointed after finishing fourth in the European championships in the 200m?

Initially yes. In hindsight when I think about it, ten days before doing the 200m, I still didn't know if I would be competing in the event so my preparation wasn't perfect. I was disappointed not to get a medal, but under the circumstances I'm quite happy with my performance. Of course in the 4x100m relay I'm bitterly disappointed.

What went wrong with the relay?

It was unfortunate in the way it panned out. I don't want to go into it, dissect it and say anyone was to blame because ultimately it is the team that is affected regardless of whether blame is placed on any individual. But I was gutted, both for myself, and the team. You have to just to close the door on it and look at the next performance. Hopefully our performance in the Commonwealth will be better.

Can we expect more from the relay team in Delhi?

I'd like to think so. I want to perform better any way. Providing the team is healthy, we should be able to execute and come back with a medal. There'll be a lot of finger pointing if we don't. The relay team has a high success rate in the Commonwealth Games, both as a team and as individuals.

You've been competing in the relay team for some time now. Have strong bonds emerged within the team?

Definitely. There can be no better feeling than winning a medal and looking over at your teammates knowing that you have all executed everything well. When I think about the Olympics in 2004 with Mark Lewis Francis, Darren Campbell and Jason Gardener, they will always be close to me because something special happened. Whenever you medal with other athletes you build up a mutual respect that carries on.

You are now 34. What is the secret to such a long career in athletics?

I think looking after my body. As you get older you need to work hard, but not as hard as you used to. After years of training, much of it is embedded and you just need to keep in touch with it, so I use that to my advantage. I still train very hard but I box clever and I don't waste my energy doing things that won't benefit me as much. Obviously I still enjoy what I do and I've been going out to the States and training with Tyson Gay, Steve Mullings, Debbie Ferguson and my coach out there. The combination of working with my coach over there and Tony Lester my coach here has made a big difference to my performances.

Has your mental attitude to racing changed throughout your career?

It definitely has. When I was younger I was very hungry and I didn't care who was in my way, I just wanted to get there and I had massive aspirations. As I've got older I'm more calculated in my performances and I pick and choose when I need to race. I think I'll need to do that a lot better over the next couple of years.

What are your plans for after the Commonwealth Games?

My aim is to chill out and do nothing because it's been a very long year. I need some time to recuperate then I'll restart for the following year at the end of November.

Are you planning to compete in the 2012 Olympics?

My biggest aspiration and motivation now lies in 2012. After 2012 I will call it a day and look into coaching and pursuing my work as an artist and other opportunities that come my way. However, I try to keep my mind in the present and not think about all that because that stuff can compromise my training.