In 1998, 24 years after his mother Blondel set a British record of 13.0 for the 110m hurdles, Daniel Caines, coached by his father Joe, was the fastest under-20 400m runner in the UK. But his promising athletic career was abruptly put on hold after a stress fracture of his spine.
By 2000, he had graduated in Law, was back in competition and was selected for the Sydney Olympics. In Sydney he lowered his PB to 45.37sec, reached the 400m semi-finals and ran in the 5th placed 4X400m relay team. In 2001, at the age of 21, he became World 400m Indoor Champion in Lisbon.
Interviewed in 2009, Daniel relived the events of 2000: “I will never forget how good I felt when Dave Moorcroft telephoned me to tell me that I had been selected to compete in the 2000 Olympic Games. The atmosphere as I stepped onto the track was unbelievable.” Describing his 2001 World Championship victory he said” It was a wonderful feeling when I crossed the line in Lisbon…to realise that I had achieved every sportsman’s dream and that I really was the World Indoor Champion”
More medals followed in 2002: bronze in European outdoors, European and Commonwealth relay gold and a career best of 44.98 sec that summer. In 2003, he won silver and bronze medals at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, where he started as the nation’s favourite, having run the fastest time in the world that season. Before the race, Michael Johnson, the world record holder said: “He’s the only one who’s got out there and is performing and no-one should beat him.” To which Daniel responded: “Obviously that doesn’t half pile the pressure on. I’m the reigning world indoor champion, the only one that Great Britain has, and I’m competing just 10 minutes away from where I live.”
Described in The Guardian in 2005 as an athlete who “ran with no inhibition”, eminently suited to indoor running because of his “ability to bustle his way around the two laps of the most frenetic of events”, he ran at the 2004 Olympics, but was eliminated in the heats due to an injury, which required knee surgery. He moved to the USA and made a return to competition, but retired from the track in 2007.
He continues to spread his love and enthusiasm for athletics, working extensively with young people on top of his day job. Following a visit, one young person commented, “Educational, really motivated me to keep trying again and again.” That’s a philosophy, which carried him through his athletics career.