Canvey decathlete Dean Macey has an ominous message for his gold medal rivals as his training for the Sydney Olympics gets under way in earnest - he's feeling better than ever.

Macey, who won a silver medal in the ten-discipline event at the world championships last summer, has started light training in his build-up to Sydney, and says he feels on top of the world.

"I feel a stage further on than at this time last year," said the athlete, who has picked up the latest in a string of awards after being named Castle Point Sports Council Sports Personality of the Year.

"I am a lot quicker than I was, and my weight's a bit better, too. I don't know how everyone else is doing, or what stage they're at, but I'm looking forward to the Olympics - even though there are still seven or eight months to go."

Macey goes to America on April 1 for an intensive training programme and will then compete in one-off events on the circuit before taking part in his first full decathlon in July.

The award from Castle Point sports council comes hot on the heels of his other gongs - in December he was named both Best Newcomer at the BBC Sports Review of the Year and Best International Newcomer by the Sports Writers Association.

Even so, he was especially pleased about the current honour, which comes from the sports council overseeing the area where he trains.

"I've got a few awards on the mantelpiece now," he said. "Even though I wouldn't say they mean more than the silver medal, they do mean a lot to me.

"It's nice to win one in Castle Point. I also won it in 1994 and everyone there has been really good."

Macey received his award along with Castle Point Athletics Club coach George Beecham, whom the athlete says thoroughly deserves his honour because he puts in so much hard work.

Macey also paid tribute to Junior winner Darryl Stone. "Darryl is going to be a great high-jumper," he said. "He's jumping now about the same as I was at his age, and he's going to go on. It's great for the Castle Point area."

Other winners: Thundersley Juniors FC (Top Team, collected by Alf Bilby), South Benfleet Bowls Club (Reg Harris Memorial Bowls Award, received by BrianPenn).

Kings of the Castle - Castle Point Sports Council award winners (l to r) George Beecham, Alf Bilby, Dean Macey, BrianPenn and Darryl Stone with sports council president George Hogbin (centre)


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