Steve Backley OBE
Success is a decision not a gift
Steve turned to the javelin after initially starting out in athletics as a cross-country and middle distance runner. 25 years later he's the four times European Javelin Champion and has won the Commonwealth Games three times. Steve is the first British athlete to have medalled at three consecutive Olympic Games. He made the world top 10 every year from 1989 to 2004 and has been world number one on three occasions.
1987: Steve started his championship career well by winning the European junior champs in front of a home crowd in Birmingham
1988: Backley set a world junior record of 79.50, but was beaten by the capable Russian, Victor Ovchinikov in the World junior championships in Canada.
1989: Bursts onto the senior scene with wins at both the World and European Cup after winning the World Student Games. He also won the Grand prix final, finishing 2 nd overall to Said Ouita.
1990: A dream summer for Steve starts with a world record of 89.58m in Stockholm and then surpassed 90m for another world record with a throw of 90.98m at his home ground, Crystal Palace , beating his arch rival Jan Zelezny. He grabbed his first major championship golds with wins at both the European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. To round it off he was awarded the IAAF athlete of the year in Monaco.
1991: Injury interrupted the positive momentum of the past 4 years and despite a disappointing world championships in Tokyo, Steve managed to salvage the season with a new British and Commonwealth record (91.36m) in front of an appreciative crowd in Sheffield
1992: Following the ban of the Nemeth javelin Backley again sets the world standard with a huge 91.46m world record throw in New Zealand. Takes the bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics.
1993: More injuries made it difficult for Steve to maintain the domination he had achieved over the past 4 years, a disappointing 4th place in the world championships and the upsurge of the already huge rival Jan Zelezny meant Steve had his work cut out.
1994: Steve began to build his form and against all odds beat the relatively unrivalled Zelezny, as well as Finland 's Seppo Raty, in the Olympic stadium in Helsinki- the home of javelin throwing. He backed this up with wins at the Commonwealth games and World cup to cap off one of his most successful summers.
1995: Despite Steve beating the best in the world at the London grand prix; Zelezny, with one of his most successful summers proved too much for Steve who was beaten into second place in the World championships in Sweden .
1996: Takes Olympic silver just three months after an operation on his Achilles. Steve was awarded the MBE for his services to sport
1997: Follows this up with another silver medal at the 1997 World Championships. Steve decided to join his arch rival Zelezny's training group at the end of the summer and train alongside him under the guidance of his coach Jan Pospisil. This proved to be a successful move.
1998: Having performed well at the 3 championships in the 3 previous years and 'only' to take silver medals at each games', it was time for Steve to return to winning ways. He successfully defended his European title but was surprisingly beaten into silver at the Commonwealth Games by South Africa 's Marius Corbett with a huge throw of over 88m. Steve's average throw for the year was in excess of 87m, making this his best performing year.
1999: The high level of training and performance of the previous year took its toll and Steve suffered more injury and ended up having knee surgery. He did manage however to throw over 87m at the AAAs and make the world championships final.
2000: Proved his championship pedigree yet again in Sydney when his 89.85m in the second round broke the Olympic record, only for arch-rival Jan Zelezny to respond with a 90m-plus effort.
2001: Built on that form with his best throw for nine years, 90.81 at the British Grand Prix
2002: Added to more gold medals to his collection with another European/Commonwealth double in 2002. This European gold made Steve the first British athlete in history to achieve 4 consecutive European gold medals. Steve was awarded the OBE for his services to sport as well as an honorary PhD from Loughborough University .
2003: Backley opened his 2003 campaign with a victory in Sweden and threw 85.69 to win in Gateshead . After recovering from more knee surgery, he still competed in the World Championships in Paris , finishing ninth.
2004: At the age of 36, Steve rounded off a great career with 4th place in the Athens Olympics. Although this was his lowest positioning in an Olympic Games, it illustrates the consistency of his performances throughout his competitive life at major championship level.
Medals and Achievements