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London 2017: Ellington delighted for relay colleagues

PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 August 2017

James Ellington (right) won 4x100m relay gold with James Dasaolu, Adam Gemili and CJ Ujah at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

James Ellington (right) won 4x100m relay gold with James Dasaolu, Adam Gemili and CJ Ujah at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Newham & Essex Beagles sprinter witnesses gold-medal triumph

Great Britain's CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake with their gold medals for the 4x100m relay at the World Championships at London Stadium (pic Martin Rickett/PA) Great Britain's CJ Ujah, Adam Gemili, Daniel Talbot and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake with their gold medals for the 4x100m relay at the World Championships at London Stadium (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

In the bowels of the London Stadium, hidden from the photographers’ lenses and away from the eyes of the world, a poignant embrace took place.

With flags draped around their shoulders, adrenaline still coursing through their veins and questioning whether they were in fact dreaming, each of Great Britain’s victorious 4x100m relay team had a hug for Newham & Essex Beagles James Ellington.

The story of Ellington’s plight has been told a thousand times.

In January of this year he was involved in a motorbike crash that could have done so much more than just mean he potentially missed out on a World Championship gold medal.

James Ellington at the third Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel earlier this year (pic Doug Peters/PA) James Ellington at the third Lycamobile British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel earlier this year (pic Doug Peters/PA)

He lost around 75 per cent of his blood, fractured his pelvis and broke both legs but was alive, standing on his own two feet and there to greet his golden comrades in their moment of success as if nothing had happened.

Were it not for that crash, he and great friend Danny Talbot may well have been fighting it out for the same spot in the team, but as it was Ellington was just ecstatic to see his colleagues finally deliver on their promise.

“It’s amazing to see them win it. I know how hard it is being one of the members of the relay team,” said the 31-year-old.

“Working and always falling short at champs, having so many mishaps. But the feeling that they’re feeling now is the best feeling you could ever feel in the world.

“It’s bittersweet for me because I would’ve loved to have been down there with the guys, but at the same time I’m so happy for them.

“Especially Danny Talbot, he’s been in the squad for years, and Adam Gemili as well.

“They’ve been part of that whole long journey and all the ups and downs, so I’m so pleased for them.

“I’ve been speaking briefly with them during the Championships, I stay in contact with Danny quite a bit.

“I was sad for him that he didn’t do what I thought he could’ve done in the 200m, so this will make up for it.

“Everyone will forget the 200s and the 100s now they’ve got a World Championships gold medal, that’s the main thing for them.”

But what of Ellington himself? He recently told of his desire to return to the track, citing next spring’s Commonwealth Games as a potential comeback date.

He has already confounded the wisdom of surgeons and consultants by walking just two weeks after the crash when experts said he would spend at least six weeks in a wheelchair.

And after watching his friends revel in their moment without him, that desire to return has become even stronger.

“I’m alive. I could’ve been in a far worse situation, I could’ve been in a wheelchair or I could’ve been dead,” he added.

“So to be here to witness this, standing on my own two feet, which not long ago were in pieces, I can’t complain.

“The determination is still there to get back and compete and seeing the boys win gold just heightens it.

“That’s what I and those guys have worked our whole lives for in this sport, so for those guys to do it in a home champs is like a fairytale.

“Most athletes, even those that do win gold medals, rarely get to do it in front of a home crowd, so it’s great that they’ve been able to do it.”

Whatever the future may hold for Ellington, the fact he was still alive to embrace his friends in their moment of triumph is a blessing in itself.

*You can help the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week this September with London 2012 hero Greg Rutherford MBE.

Find out more about how you can support the week of fun and fundraising by visiting www.sportsaid.org.uk/sportsaidweek.

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