Three-time Paralympic star Michael Roeger made a welcome return to Langhorne Creek on the Great Southern Football League Grand Finals Day to be the special guest. Roeger spoke of his hunger to compete and win gold in Tokyo in 2021, and the mental and physical toll he’d had to pay for the 2020 Paralympic Games canceled due to COVID. Roeger is a T46 (amputee) athletics competition. He competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games in athletics and will compete in the 2020 Marathon, holding the world record.
The 32-year-old from Langhorne Creek has conquered everything for him in the T46 (amputee) category for the past four years, running in marathons around the world. Michael is missing the lower half of his right arm.
His preparation was “flawless”, as he holds the world marathon record in his category.
In the London Marathon last April, Michael ran the 42 kilometers in 2 hours 22.51 seconds to claim the world record and in January in Houston he broke his own world record by running 2 hours and 19.33 seconds.
Although all of his plans have been confused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Michael Roeger has a sensible head on his shoulders and is optimistic about the future.
“I know the delay was the right decision. This disease is bigger than sports and has affected the whole world and I hope we can return to relatively normal lives soon,” said Michael.
While his short-term goals for the runway star have changed, the end goal is still the same.
“The goalposts have just been moved,” he said.
“One thing I know is that my goal is still to win the Tokyo marathon. I just need to make sure I feel mentally and physically prepared for next year.”
Michael is not only a world marathon record holder, he has held records over the years in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000 meters.
“In January, in my third marathon, I broke my world record and ran 2.19 in Houston.
“This was a very special run for me, going under two hours 20, and I let my twin brother Chris take the trip with me,” said Michael.
Michael’s performance at the London Marathon last year was also an unreal experience for the Creek boy. The London Marathon coincided with the Para Athletics Marathon World Championships.
It was a great opportunity for Michael and he had to win the race, that’s his drive to succeed in everything he does.
Coach Saunders had Michael in top condition, but not everything went according to plan. He had severe body cramps for the last three miles, but with sheer willpower, persistence and determination, he ran first to the line.
“It was very special and having Philo there was incredibly humbling. We had worked together for almost 10 years to get that result,” said Michael.
Michael Roeger may be based in Canberra and breaking records around the world, but his heart is always in his hometown Langhorne Creek.
It is where he played his football, basketball, tennis, cricket and table tennis growing up and enjoyed the success of the Langhorne Creek A Grade football team in the Great Southern Football League (GSFL) over the past three years.
“I have loved the online stream the GSFL has from time to time, especially for the Creek games. It was great to be here this year to see the guys win their third flag in a row,” he said. .
After the final siren, Michael was in his Hawk jersey and was just as happy as any other supporter or player.
Like many, Michael is struggling to face the impact of the coronavirus, but he understands it is a defining moment in a generation.
The sober world champion realizes that much worse can happen in society.
“We will all remember 2020 for the coronavirus. It’s not just Australia, the whole world is in this and fighting it,” said Michael.
“We are all in this together and we must continue to follow the strict rules that are now in place and do everything we can to take care of each other and stay positive.
“I think the better we do all of this, the sooner we’ll be back to normal. I know for myself it’s hard, but we’ll get through it and hopefully we’ll get out better.
“We don’t have to go to war, we don’t get shot, we won’t go hungry. We just have to isolate for a while, maintain social distance and hopefully keep it under control and then there will be a vaccine in the near future. We can do this! “
Meanwhile, the Fleurieu, and Langhorne Creek in particular, will be on the edge of their seats as the prodigal prepares for and competes in Tokyo in 2021.