One step at a time

Ngun­nawal man and New York Marathon qual­i­fier Jesse Thomp­son uses run­ning to drive change in in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Jil­lian McKee Strong com­mu­ni­ties are built upon peo­ple like Jesse — he is the fu­ture of the coun­try Mick Rees

ONE step at a time, Jesse Thomp­son is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in the in­dige­nous com­mu­nity around Mt Druitt.

Thomp­son, 24, of Hassall Grove, is set to run in the New York City Marathon on Novem­ber 6.

But the race means much more to him than sim­ply cross­ing the fin­ish line.

Thomp­son was one of 12 run­ners se­lected from hun­dreds of ap­pli­cants, cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in the event as part of the In­dige­nous Marathon Project.

The project uses run­ning as a ve­hi­cle to drive change.

Af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt last year, Thomp­son came back stronger than ever and gained en­try this year.

With­out a back­ground in run­ning, Thomp­son told The

Stan­dard he was shocked to have been se­lected.

“I have al­ways done sport but not to the ex­tent of a marathon so it was a bit of a step up,” he said.

“I tried out last year and didn’t make it, and I just thought I wasn’t go­ing to get in again. I was over the moon,” he said.

Thomp­son be­longs to the Ngun­nawal peo­ple and says run­ning is his way of em­pow­er­ing his com­mu­nity to end a de­struc­tive cy­cle.

“We can break this cy­cle of vi­o­lence and drugs to lead long, healthy and safe life­styles,” he said.

Marathon Project head coach Mick Rees said he could not have picked a bet­ter can­di­date.

“It is hard to get knocked down and get back up, so Jesse re­ally showed he was com­mit­ted enough by reap­ply­ing,” Rees said.

“What stood out about Jesse was his pas­sion for be­ing a pos­i­tive role model for the in­dige­nous peo­ple of Mt Druitt. He is tal­ented phys­i­cally — he works and trains hard and he epit­o­mises what it means to have a goal. Strong com­mu­ni­ties are built upon peo­ple like Jesse — he is the fu­ture of the coun­try.”

Thomp­son will spend the next few months training for the 42km event at training camps across the coun­try.

Rees said the lead-up to the marathon would be a chal­lenge. “We want to make it as hard as pos­si­ble,” he said.

“The more some­one has to earn some­thing, the more it means. We want to push them to their phys­i­cal and men­tal lim­its so they can see what amaz­ing peo­ple they are.”

Thomp­son said the training camps had only ce­mented his mo­ti­va­tion.

“In Can­berra last week, I was for­tu­nate enough to visit the Ngun­nawal area where my in­dige­nous her­itage is from – it was re­ally spe­cial,” he said.

“When I met ev­ery­one in­volved we all con­nected ... it was so en­cour­ag­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing ... I can’t wait.”

Pic­ture: Justin San­son

Pic­ture: Justin San­son

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