World record as Roeger makes stunning marathon debut

17 Oct 2018

A FLAT coke just might have been the difference for Paralympian Michael Roeger becoming a world champion at his first stint in a marathon or falling short of crossing the finishing line.

Roeger, 30, classified as a T46 athlete (arm amputee), crossed the line in the Melbourne Marathon in 2 hours 23 minutes 30 seconds to smash the previous record in that category of 2:26.44.30. To add to the excitement, the final stages of the event were held on the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which Roeger said was a big thrill.

But the flat coke, provided by his personal helper for the day Bronwyn Humphrys, just might have been the boost needed for the champion SASI, current Canberra resident and three-times Paralympian.

"At about the 38km mark I was really cramping up in my hamstrings and struggling to keep going, I thought I may not make it to the finish," Roeger said.

"But Bronwyn Humphrys, who played a big part in my success on the day and was giving me drinks during the race, gave me a flat coke which seemed to do the trick.

"I was able to keep going and to be able to run into and onto the MCG was one of my biggest thrills. I always dreamed that one day I would be chasing a Sherrin (football) around on the MCG as I just loved footy as a young boy.

"I still can't believe that I was able to finish and have a world record, 42km is a long way but I had so much support on the day and from home with family watching a live stream. To know I was under the world record when I ran on to the MCG was exciting."

This year has been outstanding for Roeger. He now holds the marathon, 1500m and 5000m world records in the T46 categories which is believed to be the the first time an athlete has held those records in the same year.

For now Roeger, formerly of Langhorne Creek, has plenty to mull over as he discusses with his coach Philo Saunders whether he could target both the 1500m and marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

"We will have a lot of chats and work out what we can do," Roeger said. "Both events could be a chance on the same program. It could be done as one is early and the marathon usually is at the end of the program."

Roeger has a number of events coming to look forward to. Among them include the Australian 10,000 championships (Zatopek:10) which will be held at the Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne, on Thursday, December 13.

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