Dylan Armstrong's big day finally arrived Thursday as the Canadian shot putter was presented with a world indoor championship bronze medal from 2010.
Armstrong earned the medal, originally awarded to Andrei Mikhnevich, after the Belarusian athlete's results were annulled for a second doping violation. Mikhnevich received a lifetime ban from his country's federation for a second offence discovered last year in retests of an older sample.
"It's wonderful that my coach [Anatoliy Bondarchu] and I, friends, family and sponsors can finally celebrate this medal," said Armstrong in an interview before the presentation at the Harry Jerome International Track Classic in Burnaby, B.C.
Armstrong had to wait more than a year to receive the hardware from the 2010 world indoors in Doha, Qatar after the International Association of Athletics Federations moved him from fourth place to third.
"It's just nice that the IAAF made this happen and were really supportive of me getting it quick," said Armstrong.
Armstrong, who calls himself a "patient guy," said it was not that difficult to wait for his medal.
The 33-year-old Kamloops, B.C. native says he's finding it more difficult to wait to recover from an elbow injury that has sidelined him most of this season and prevented him from competing in the Jerome, one of his favourite events.
"I'm waiting on some more [medical] consulting and [to] get a date and get it done," he said. "Basically, I want to get this over with and get healthy so I can get ready for 2015 and then get ready for 2016."
Eyeing 2015 outdoor worlds
Armstrong is aiming to compete at the 2015 world outdoor championships in Beijing and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he hopes to improve on a disappointing fifth place finish at the 2012 London Games.
He expects to undergo surgery in Vancouver within a month to repair bone spurs that prevent him from extending his elbow as he makes his toss.
"I can't get a real extension on it," he said. "So I just have to get that done. It's loaded with arthritis."
Armstrong expects his post-surgery recovery to take five to seven weeks. The elbow has bothered him since 2012, but he was still able to compete at the London Games. He also competed in 2013 when he won a bronze medal at the world championships in Moscow.
He decided to shut down his season after limited throwing activity in the spring.
"I was kind of good until April and then it started acting up," he said. "I [thought], I'm not going to push this because, at my age, I'm not getting any younger. But if I do want to have a good chance of getting on the podium in 2015 [and 2016], this is the year that I've got to take care of this [injury]."
While he can't throw, he is still working on his aerobics by cycling, running and walking.
The hiatus will prevent him from competing at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Scotland, but he says he is "OK" with missing them after claiming gold in the 2010 Commonwealths. He is optimistic the rest from competition will be good mentally and leave him feeling re-charged as he prepares for the 2015 Worlds and 2016 Olympics.
Even if Armstrong doesn't qualify for Rio, he still has a chance to get an Olympic medal. Mikhnevich's ban means Armstrong is in line for a possible bronze from the 2008 Games in Beijing, where he finished fourth.
But that's still up to the International Olympic Committee, which has not yet decided to give him the medal. Armstrong said the Canadian Olympic Committee is still in the process of pressing his case with the IOC.
"There's a process around it, and I've got to be patient," he said.