London – The Olympic Games reignited Lehann Fourie's self-belief, after he had contemplated hanging up his spikes for good.
It was as if the Olympic gods intervened when a downtrodden Fourie made the final of the 110 metres hurdles on Wednesday, in emphatic style.
Fourie missed the SA record by 0.02 seconds in the semi-finals, with a personal best time of 13.28 seconds, to book his place in the final two hours later.
“I thought this was going to be my last meet – not just this year as I was going to re-evaluate about next year and everything,” Fourie said.
“I got tired of injuries and the way I was going on.
“But I think making the Olympic final definitely gave me a little bit more motivation to try harder.
“I know I can go faster and work towards Rio in 2016.”
He was unable to repeat his performance in the final, however, finishing seventh in 13.53.
Fourie, who was somewhat of a surprise inclusion in the SA team, had struggled with niggling injuries in the lead-up to the Games.
With his confidence at a low, and Fourie ready to throw in the towel, his run in the semi-final resuscitated his career.
“After the semi-final, I was shocked and I felt maybe I can be one of the best in the world,” he said.
“It was a good experience, especially just making the team.
“I'd been sick, and am still on antibiotics, and I’ve had a few injuries over the last couple of weeks.”
His low esteem meant that he did not think that he would go past the semi-final and, subsequently, did not prepare himself for a final.
“I didn’t expect to make the final,” Fourie said.
“I always hoped, I always prayed, but I didn’t even know what time the final was,” Fourie said.
“I didn’t even bring a sandwich or anything for afterwards.”
He said while many believed in his potential, he did not share their sentiments, but after SA's Olympic body, Sascoc, gave him a lifeline by including him in the team, he did not want to be perceived as a mere passenger at the Games.
“It’s been a great experience where I surprised myself,” he said.
“A lot of other people believed in me but it was really hard for me to believe in myself.
“I told myself before the semi-final that I had 13 seconds to change my life.
“In 13 seconds, you can really write your destiny and I was literally running as if it was my last race.” – Sapa