Michael Roeger does us proud in Tokyo…but the hunt for gold continues
Injured, exhausted and clearly in pain, it was an emotional end to Paralympian Michael Roeger’s Tokyo campaign when he crossed the finish line in sixth place in the T46 Marathon.
Roeger was the favourite to win this event after setting a world record time of 2:18:52 at the Athletics Australia Tokyo Qualifying Marathon in April this year.
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be for Roeger this time around, completing the marathon with a time of 2:34:45, 8 minutes and 55 seconds behind the eventual winner.
Post-race, Roeger revealed that he had been battling a stress fracture in his leg in the month leading up to the Games, considerably altering his preparation and training load coming into Tokyo.
“It was probably the toughest run I’ve ever done but I did it for Australia, for my family, for Langhorne Creek, for Philo (Saunders) and I still believed on the start line that I could do it,” Roeger said.
“Unfortunately, the injury came at the wrong time five weeks ago and I’m not using that as an excuse but yeah…no words really.”
Roeger’s inspirational journey has seen him win one gold and three bronze medals at the World Para Athletics Championships and a bronze at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, but the chase for his first Paralympic gold is something that continues to drive him.
“I know this isn’t the end; I’ve got a lot more in me and my time will come, and I just want to thank Australia and everyone for their messages of support,” Roeger said.
Roeger has been with the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI) for more than a decade, where SASI has provided both financial support and access to facilities and resources whenever the runner is back in Adelaide.
“Having them (SASI) believe in me is pretty special; and the whole South Australian Athletics community has been a big support and I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
SASI Director Wes Battams, watched Roeger compete in the T46 Marathon and was moved by his efforts, saying it’s a testament to his character and strength.
“Given the form that Michael has been in over the past few years, to get that injury must have been heartbreaking, but to push through it and still finish in sixth place is an incredible feat,” Battams said.
As Roeger continues his quest for Paralympic gold, there’s no doubt he will inspire the next generation of Paralympians to have a go and dream big!