For the first time in history, an Australian Indigenous runner will take his place at the start of the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon in April.
IMP 2014 Graduate, Harold Matthew from Thursday Island, was offered the running trip of a lifetime after a surprise call from Deek.
“I am so proud to represent the whole of Australia, Indigenous people, and my Torres Strait and Thursday Island communities. It’s something I will carry for the rest of my life,” Harold said.
His marathon training program consists of multiple 5km loops of the ring-road on Thursday Island, a route he is very familiar with following his NY Marathon training back in 2014!
Deek said it was difficult selecting a single person from the 65 IMP Graduates and it came down to choosing someone who had not only made an extraordinary contribution to IMF, but also possessed the physical and mental strength to take on London.
“Harold has always been ready, willing and able to step up and do whatever is needed to spread ripples of health, fitness and pride through his community,” he said.
“London is one of the great marathons of the world, and it’s an amazing opportunity for us to send one of our IMP Graduates to do it.”
Harold applied for both the North Pole Marathon and the ANZAC Anniversary Kokoda Trek in 2015, but missed out. Undeterred, he also ran his second marathon at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon in 2015, and then his third on his honeymoon in Honolulu the same year.
Sending an Indigenous athlete to London has particular resonance for Deek.
Australia sent its very first international sporting side to England in 1868 – a cricket side composed entirely of Aboriginal men. According to local reports, they ‘ran like deer’ and challenged the English gamely on their own turf. In 2002, as chair of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame selection committee, Deek was involved in seeing the team inducted to the Hall of Fame.
Now, nearly 150 years after that initial tour, thanks to the generous support of an IMF contributor, Harold will score another first when he runs across the finish line and into the history books.