Fylde athlete crowned British champion and Europe's fastest in first race for years

Dave Mendonca with son Diego and his British Masters gold medal in Birmingham
Dave Mendonca with son Diego and his British Masters gold medal in Birmingham
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The Fylde has a new British sprint champion, who took the prestigious 400m title in his first race for four and a half years.

The Fylde has a new British sprint champion, who took the prestigious 400m title in his first race for four and a half years.

Dave Mendonca from Little Eccleston only decided to come out of retirement to enter the British Masters Championships a fortnight before the event at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

But not only did the 45-year-old win the gold medal, he also recorded the fastest time in Europe this year and the third-fastest in the world for his age category.

Dave’s extraordinary time for the one-lap race of 52.05secs has been bettered only by Marcio Wandre Morais of Brazil (50.69) and by the South African Spencer Moraope in the 45-49 category during 2019.

A former Blackpool Wyre and Fylde AC athlete, fitness coach Mendonca runs his own business, Mendo Fitness, but had ceased competing due to a combination of work commitments and injuries.

Dave takes up his remarkable story: “I work with professional footballers and felt in good shape after doing pre-season work with them.

“I saw the times people were running in the Masters 45 category and thought I could compete, so I decided to enter at two weeks’ notice. I took the children along and won by four seconds.

“Anyone can enter if your times in the past have been good enough, though you are supposed to be a club member and I no longer have a BWF vest.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t be allowed to race but they let me compete as a Masters GB team member and my time was the fastest for 45 years. I would also have won in the 35 and 40 categories.”

And after his snap decision to dust down his spikes paid off so handsomely, Dave is in no mood to retire again.

“I wouldn’t have gone just to make the numbers up,” he added. “I thought I could get on the podium but I didn’t expect gold.

“I’ll possibly look at the world championships next year because I’m convinced I could go even quicker if I had someone running with me or was chasing someone down.”