DAVID Gill was on fire in Australia as he extinguished rivals in record-breaking fashion.
Stockton Heath’s super-fit retired station manager scorched his way to medal glory in the World Firefighter Games in Sydney.
A seven-times world champion who has represented England all over the world in tug o’war, the 55-year-old proved his all-round talent with success in every athletics event he entered.
His eight gold medals ranged from the 100m relay sprints to the half marathon, and he switched to the field to bag one of his two silvers in the triple jump.
All came in a hectic seven days of competition in soaring heat in one of the world’s largest sporting events, involving more than 10,000 participants from 57 countries across 50 sports.
Those eligible to compete included existing and retired firefighters, as well as members of emergency services, aviation and military organisations.
Gill, rewarded for all the running he does in preparation for tug o’war events, said: “I won the cross country on the Saturday, giving me a two-day rest before the track and field events.
“Those two days took the most effort as I was given little recovery time between events. My last gold medal was won on the Friday in the half marathon.
“My 13 medals, including eight golds, set a Games record.
“If I was a country I would have finished 18th in the medal table.”
Competing in Sydney, in and around year 2000 Olympic Games venues, will leave a lasting impression on Gill, whose 30-year working career included time based at Birchwood Fire Station before he retired from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service two years ago.
Now he has another burning ambition.
He said: “I intend to defend my titles at the next Games in Los Angeles in 2014.
“I also intend to defend my World Police and Fire Games 1,500m and 5,000m titles in Belfast next August.”
Six weeks prior to the Games, the Warrington Sports Personality 2000 Special Award recipient had won an 11th European silver medal with the England tug o’war team in Switzerland.
His next major tug o’ war competition will be the World Games in Cali, Columbia, next summer.
“I’m making the most of it before my body says no more,” he said.
DAVID GILL'S MEDAL HAUL
Gold: 100m relay; 800m; 1,500m; 3,000m steeplechase; 5,000m; 10,000m; cross country; half marathon
Silver: 400m; triple jump
Bronze: 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles