I thought he was OK
Tearful Aussie smashed by online haters for not stopping to help
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.
Michael Shelley passes a distraught Callum Hawkins.