I thought he was OK

Tear­ful Aussie smashed by on­line haters for not stop­ping to help

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - GREG STOLZ

HE should be bathing in the glow of Com­mon­wealth Games glory.

But marathon cham­pion Michael Shel­ley is dev­as­tated after en­dur­ing a tor­rent of abuse over his con­tro­ver­sial win when he ran past stricken Scots­man Cal­lum Hawkins as he lay col­lapsed on the road.

Shel­ley has been tar­geted by on­line trolls over his “heart­less” fail­ure to help Hawkins, who was lead­ing the gru­elling race un­til his sick­en­ing col­lapse less than 2km from the line at the Gold Coast Games last Sun­day.

Sources close to Shel­ley said the Gold Coast run­ner is so shat­tered by the re­sponse he re­gards his gold medal as be­ing tar­nished.

Shel­ley ap­peared on the verge of tears yes­ter­day at a thank-you party for Games volunteers where he was com­forted by well­wish­ers, in­clud­ing Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral Sir Peter Cos­grove.

“It is what it is,” he said when asked about the abuse he has copped. “It’s been a tough week.”

Shel­ley said he be­lieved Hawkins, who stum­bled and crashed into a road bar­rier as his legs gave way, was be­ing tended to by a vol­un­teer and kept on run­ning.

“At the time, I saw some­one with Cal­lum and my un­der­stand­ing was that he was get­ting help,” he said. “That’s why I kept on go­ing.

“I was strug­gling my­self when I got to the fin­ish line. It was just what hap­pened. I saw the vol­un­teer be­side him and I didn’t see any lead-up.

“I just saw that he was get­ting help.”

Shel­ley said he had reached out to Hawkins after his re­lease from hospi­tal on Mon­day.

“He’s do­ing OK,” he said. “I just told him I hope he’s bet­ter soon and wished him all the best.”

Games chair­man Peter Beat­tie said Shel­ley was a “great Aus­tralian” who thor­oughly de­served his gold medal. Any­one who is giv­ing him flak should back off and leave him alone,” Mr Beat­tie said.

“He’s a very de­cent and sen­si­tive guy and there’s no doubt he’s been hurt by the crit­i­cism, which is to­tally un­war­ranted.

“Of course, ev­ery­one was con­cerned for the Scot’s wel­fare but he said no to as­sis­tance on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions be­cause if he’d taken it he would have been dis­qual­i­fied.”

Games or­gan­is­ers were forced to de­fend the lengthy de­lay in get­ting help for Hawkins, with crit­ics in­clud­ing BBC com­men­ta­tor Steve Cram la­belling it a dis­grace.

The marathon was run in 28C heat but Games boss Mark Peters said elite marathon­ers were ac­cus­tomed to ex­treme weather con­di­tions and reg­u­larly pushed them­selves to the point of col­lapse.

Shel­ley’s spir­its would have been lifted yes­ter­day by the dozens of Games volunteers and their fam­i­lies who mobbed him for au­to­graphs and self­ies at the party at the South­port Broad­wa­ter Park­lands.

Pic­ture: AAP

Michael Shel­ley passes a dis­traught Cal­lum Hawkins.

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