Grant Chapman, a former NZ decathlon champion and currently a New Zealand Herald correspondent, is covering the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland.

This is how it feels to be the "almost man".

When you hear about New Zealand athletes finishing fourth at the Olympics and you feel sorry, because they came so close to a medal ... that's me at the World Masters Games.

Lured out of a 20-year retirement to compete in athletics, hopes of a memento and maybe a national record turned to ash in the space of a few minutes on Monday afternoon.


Leading after the first round of the M50-54 discus and still second heading into the final three rounds, I got kicked to the kerb, as the big guns finally warmed to their task.

My only hope now - the South African guy who finished second may yet fail his drugs test and I may still get promoted.

Ah yes, that bitter/sweet feeling of being history's forgotten man.

Since ending a career as an average decathlete (which is, after all, the very definition of being mediocre at 10 events), I have kept active through basketball and, more latterly, road cycling.

I had always sworn never to return to masters athletics, because I knew I would not be able to accept that I'm not as good as I used to be (which wasn't that good in the first place).

But when I started considering which sport/event might yield a WMG2017 medal, discus was a natural choice. It was my best event before I got serious about decathlon and one in which I had set a national schools record with the same 1.5kg implement I would throw in my current age group.

So, a year ago, I relegated my bike to the back of the garage and began converting my cyclist's body back into a thrower by lifting more weights, running up and down stairs, throwing medicine balls, and jumping up and down off boxes ... desperately trying to rediscover some explosive muscle fibres.

Turns out they could not be lured out of retirement.

I loved working hard and being focused on preparing for something again, but not so much putting it out there in competition.

Trying to remember how to throw was nerve-wracking and my first public re-appearance at Mt Smart Stadium was harrowing.

At the NZ Masters Games in Wanganui, I completely missed my event, after misreading the schedule - a valuable lesson learned (and an early sign of senility).

So, on Monday, I was a full hour early to report in at Trusts Arena, just to be sure. After working up a nice sweat in warm-ups and meeting my opponents - all really nice fellas - I put my game face on and went to work.

The discus circle seemed a little gritty and slippery underfoot, and everyone was somewhat tentative at first. A nice head wind prevailed, but if your trajectory was too high, the disc would stall in mid-air and plummet straight down like a dead duck.

It had to sail flat.

Our field consisted of seven locals and visiting South African Pieter van Rensburg. I figured he wouldn't come all this way, if he wasn't pretty good and so it proved.

Through the first round, three of us managed safety-first 36m throws - I was ahead by a few centimetres - but our guest sliced his outside the sector line.

I improved to 38m on my next attempt, but van Rensburg recorded 40m to edge ahead and improved to 41 in the third round.

So far, so good.

But if the third day of a golf tournament is "moving day", round four proved the equivalent in this contest.

Rene Otto and Adrian Stockill both produced 40m, I fouled and van Rensburg upped the ante to 42m. Suddenly, I was chewing dust.

Round five proved even more crucial, though, as Stockill caught the wind perfectly and unleashed a 46m personal best that no one could match. I had another 38m effort, Van Rensburg tossed 44m with his final attempt and that was all she wrote.

I was rapt for Adrian, whom I had stalked from long distance all season. After I begged officials to let me compete with another age group in Wanganui, I actually threw further than him that day, but he had improved over the course of the season and I had not.

Today, he had thrown further than our age-group national record.

Having shown some athletics ability as a lad back in England, Stockill had drifted away, moved to New Zealand after following the 1993 Lions tour here and then stumbled back into the sport three years ago at the NZ Masters Games, where he was primarily a footballer.

Daughter Josie Stockill is an NZ Tall Ferns basketball representative.

Van Rensburg, from Gauteng, was a useful 54m thrower in his prime, but has been hampered by injury in his middle age, a common affliction hereabouts.

So, now that's over, what next? Should I dust off the road bike and pedal off into the sunset, or come back next summer as a sad, old below-average decathlete?

I've thoroughly enjoyed being back in the sport that kept me out of trouble through my youth and catching up with old friends who have also returned for the occasion.

I'm not sure my body could sustain 10 events - my throwing arm is virtually falling off, already - but maybe if I changed my diet, dropped 10kg, lifted more weights, did some more running ...

Look out Kansai, Japan, 2021.