LETHBRIDGE – After 24 hours of travel all Jim Steacy wanted was some time with his wife Brittany, and a chicken sandwich.
Instead, the Commonwealth Games hammer throw gold medallist was surprised by nearly 40 cheering family members, friends and fans as he returned home to the Lethbridge airport just after midnight Friday morning.
“That was unbelievable,” he said. “The last thing I expected getting off the plane so it was very, very special.”
Earlier in the week Steacy claimed gold at the Games in Glasgow, Scotland. His winning throw of 74.16-metres was more than a metre further than his nearest competitor.
It was the culmination of the toughest period of his life, following the sudden death of his mother – and biggest fan – Debby, in April.
With his heart still heavy Steacy left for Scotland. But he had a support group by his side as his dad, Graham and brother, Sean traveled to cheer him on and were by his side after winning the gold.
“After it was all said and done I saw Sean at the end of the track and…” Steacy paused as tears welled in his eyes. “Getting to share that with dad and Sean was the best part about this. And I know she was there too.”
As the end of the event approached Steacy had a chance to take in the atmosphere around his victory. He already had the championship wrapped up as he made his final toss, creating the ultimate test of his nerves.
“I was just trying not to jump out of my skin,” he laughed. “Trying to calm that much excitement was not easy and I’m lucky I actually didn’t fall down in the circle.”
The gold medal is a key milestone on a tough road for the 30-year-old Lethbridge native. In 2008 he made the final during his Olympic debut in Beijing, but almost immediately after injuries mounted and slowed his ascent. The low point was the 2012 Olympics in London where he failed to even register a qualified throw. Times were so tough he even considered quitting the sport. But gold in Glasgow has rejuvenated him.
“It’s almost like a fresh start,” said Steacy. “I’m back to where I want to be as far as being able to compete with the best in the world and I’m healthy, I’m getting consistent training and it’s just upwards from here.”
Steacy is done with competitions for this summer and says his goal now is returning to the medal podium with his sites set on next year’s Pan-Am Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.