Mercury (Hobart)



THE marathon has never been for the faint hearted but the ultra endurance races at the Tokyo Paralympic­s were especially cruel to Australia’s two male runners.

Jaryd Clifford (pictured), who competed in the visually impaired category, vomited repeatedly for the last 12km of his race but still managed to finish and win the silver medal. It was heroic stuff.

So too with Michael Roeger, who ran in the amputee classifica­tion.

The soul of the Australian athletics team, he was cramping so badly in the Japanese humidity that he collapsed immediatel­y after he crossed the line in fifth place and was placed on an intravenou­s drip and given oxygen as he slipped in and out of consciousn­ess.

Fighting back tears, he said he was devastated that he hadn’t won, believing that he had everyone down, even though he hadn’t at all.

In reality, he should not have been running in the first place after he was recently diagnosed with stress fractures in his shin but pushed himself through the pain barrier because the Paralympic­s mean so much to him.

“I want a gold medal but at the end of the day, it‘s not going to define me,” he said.

“If I‘m not good enough without the gold medal then

I’m not going to be good enough with it so I’ve just got to keep enjoying the journey.

“I‘m 33 and I’ve got a lot to learn in the marathon. so there’s a lot more in me over the next three years.”

Clifford had already won a silver medal in the 5000m and a bronze in the 1500m but wasn’t sure he could make it to the end, let alone collect another medal.

“That‘s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.

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