City of Sheffield’s Lee Emanuel insists he will enjoy every minute of his triumphant renaissance after clinching silver at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.
The 30-year-old brought the curtain down on the second day of action in the Czech Republic with a gutsy 3000m run that saw him finish in a personal best time of 7:44.48 minutes, which was good enough for a silver medal.
It was a testing run for Emanuel who saw Turkey’s Ali Kaya set an incredible early pace and eventually race to a championship record of 7:38.42.
Emanuel made sure Kaya had no room for complacency, however, and also held off the charge of Norwegian Henrik Ingebrigsten to take second place on the podium.
It was a moment that Emanuel has long doubted would arrive, but now that he has taken a major championship medal he says he is hungry for more.
“It’s huge, I’ve been battling away over the last eight or nine years. I’ve had some really bad races and some really bad times,” he said.
“This is definitely the peak and the happiest I have ever been running. There were times when I was 25 or 26 when I thought I would never be able to run at this level again let alone get medals.
“It’s a great achievement and hopefully I’m a bit of an inspiration to people because I was running so badly for two years and almost gave up.
“This season I think I have taken it to another level and hopefully I can carry that into the summer.
“When I crossed the line I was disappointed but as the time goes I’m getting happier and happier.
“I was trying to catch him and with about 400m to go I realised I wasn’t going to and I had a look and knew I had a good amount of room behind me so at that point it was about trying to get to that line as fast as I could.”
Emmanuel has struggled for form in recent years but believes he may have finally found a rich vein of form that he can carry into this summer’s World Championships in Beijing and, ultimately, the Rio 2016 Olympics.
But for now he admits he is just happy to have come through a difficult race.
“I’m happy with that and the way the race went I don’t think I could have done any better to be honest,” he added.
“I wanted to try and win and I thought I could win but I think I underestimated how good that Turkish guy is and how fit he is at the moment. Sometimes you have to take your hat off and say he was better than me.
“Looking at how the race went I finished as high as I probably could have so I’ve got to be delighted by it.
“I was tiring really badly during that last 200m and that was probably the hardest race I’ve ever done in terms of the strain I was under.”
* Sainsbury’s is a proud partner of British Athletics. The partnership reflects Sainsbury’s wider commitment to inspiring healthy lifestyles for all, and complements grassroots campaigns such as Active Kids and the Sainsbury’s School Games. www.sainsburys.co.uk