Merton councillor Fidelis Gadzama believes he has something to prove as he sets his sights on competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Looking to partake in the 400m it will not be the first time he has competed at an Olympic Games, as he was part of the Nigerian team that won silver in Sydney 2000, before US athlete Antonio Pettigrew was found guilty of doping and the Nigerians were awarded the gold medal.
Gadzama was tipped to be a star but injuries hampered his progress, but he is hoping that his body will be able to take the rigours of competing in next year’s Olympic trials.
He said: “I started running but I got injured. Now my injury is almost gone I have started training again; we will see how my body goes and then maybe go to Rio.”
The 34-year-old had planned to run in Beijing but pulled out after suffering from tendonitis.
“I had tendonitis and I was on and off so I pulled out of Beijing to get myself treated, but my body is beginning to react better now unlike it was before.”
The Labour councillor for Cannon Hill is hoping to inspire local youngsters to take up sport.
“That’s one of my goals, that’s why I asked for the sports section is to encourage the young ones to take up sport.”
Looking back at his achievements in the Olympics, Gadzama marvelled in what he described as “a little battle” to eventually obtain the gold medal that had eluded him for 13 years.
“It took a little battle for my country to come to terms giant like America, unlike Britain they have a zero tolerance on drugs. When Pettigrew was exposed I was glad about his admission and that he had no defence. We won a little battle.”
He compared Pettigrew’s use of performance-enhancing drugs to gaining an 80m head start in a 400m race. “I do feel cheated when someone beats you using steroids it is painful, it’s like starting at 320m. We got our justice finally but it took time.
“We just kept our fingers crossed and waited for the outcome, at the time we thought that was it but we got it.”
However, the father-of-four wants to put the past behind him and believes he has a mission to complete by competing in Brazil.
He said: “I feel like in my mind I’m not totally done, I still believe I have to accomplish something, I have a mission that is not complete yet.”