• ROBERT DE CASTELLA (DEEK)
                • MICK REES
                • KELLIE O’SULLIVAN
                • NADINE HUNT

Robert De Castella (Deek) – Director

Deeks“I’ve run against people from every race and culture, and whilst we have seen a wonderful representation of Indigenous athletes in the explosive sports such as AFL, league, boxing and sprinting, I’ve been surprised by the lack of Indigenous representation in distance running or the marathon. With research we have discovered that there are no avenues or opportunities for Indigenous long distance runners. I believe that we need to explore the possibilities and beg the question: How do we create champions without opportunity? At the moment, there’s no real culture of distance running amongst Indigenous Australians, but I believe there is potential given the history of endurance evidenced by a nomadic existence, traditional hunting and recorded history of an extraordinary ability to cover vast distances. The overwhelming response we’ve had demonstrates this latent interest in marathon running. I think we have the potential of identifying some real talent

New York takes front stage when it comes to hosting and delivering a truly spectacular marathon. It is a 42.195 kilometer, river of mankind and everything good about our human spirit. What better event than this to take our Indigenous running team to, to highlight their potential on an international stage.”

World Champion Marathon Runner

Robert de Castella is Australia’s greatest ever marathon runner. He set the world record in 1981, became Australia’s first Track and Field World Champion in 1983, won two Commonwealth Games marathons in 1982 and 1986 and dominated the event worldwide for most of the 1980’s.

While he represented Australia at four Olympic Games, finishing 5th, 8th, 10th and 26th, Robert is probably best remembered for the Brisbane Commonwealth Games when he came from over a minute back to catch, and eventually run away from, duel Tanzanian champion JumaIkanga. Robert’s dominance resulted in him being voted World Best Marathoner of the 1980’s decade. In 1983, he was voted Australian of the Year and honoured with an MBE.

In 1986 he was inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame and in 1990 he was named World Marathon Runner of the Decade by Track and Field News.

As Director of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for five years in the early 1990s, Robert repositioned the AIS as a centre of excellence after the drugs in sport debacle of the late 80’s. He was also involved in establishing the elite sports system being used today by our Olympic athletes and teams.

In 1995 Robert established his own not for profit company, SmartStart for Kids. SmartStart works through schools to encourage children to be healthy and active. It especially targets escalating obesity, poor nutrition and inactivity and has resulted in large improvements in child fitness and health. The SmartStart longitudinal database of children’s health and fitness statistics has enabled valuable reports to be generated and a range of follow up services for students, parents, schools and government.

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Mick rees – head coach

In 2014, Mick and his family made the trip from Western Australia to Canberra to take up the position as Head Coach of the IMP. Mick has an extensive background in sport, having developed and implemented strategies, programs and pathways in a number of sport and recreational formats.

He was previously the Regional Cricket Manager – Top End at Northern Territory Cricket.  The role had a strong focus on increasing the number of opportunities for Indigenous athletes across the Top End and using cricket as a vehicle to assist in addressing various social, health and lifestyle issues.

His passion for creating pathways and sporting opportunities in the Indigenous community then led Mick to take on the role as the Regional Manager of Sport and Recreation at Tiwi Islands. His energy, enthusiasm, passion for sport and dedication to see his runners succeed is unquestionable.  He believes everyone has a song within them that needs unearthing.

One of his favourite quotes is used by rugby league coach, Wayne Bennett, who said ‘Don’t die with the music in you’.

Mick will have the 2014 squad singing their song come New York in November.

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A passion for sport and fundraising were the key factors in luring Kellie from her home in Newcastle to the nation’s capital in April 2014.

“When the opportunity came up to work with the team at IMP, I thought I’d won lotto.  It really is a dream job allowing me to combine my two biggest passions; sport and fundraising.  It’s not everyday an opportunity like this comes available, being able to provide opportunities for others to achieve a goal and lead a healthier life – and of course embrace the thrill that is running.  That was definitely worth a move to this beautiful city.”

“I’m very excited to witness the growth, development and achievements of the IMP squads, Graduates, and the supporters who make it all possible.”

Kellie holds a Bachelor of Communication and a Certificate in Fundraising. She currently sits on the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Canberra committee, has a background in Corporate Communication and was the Chair of PULSE, a voluntary medical research fundraising committee of the Hunter Medical Research Institute.


NADINE HUNT – events and education coordinator

Nadine Hunt

Nadine relocated from Cairns to Canberra in 2013 to be part of the Indigenous Marathon Project Team. She was part of the first female squad to run the New York Marathon in 2011.

“I’m very excited to be part of the IMP team, being able to experience it as a squad member, I understand how tough it is for each runner. I respect every single Indigenous male and female for showing the courage to take on the challenge and responsibility to proudly represent their family, friends and community.

I will only continue to be inspired by the amazing people this program discovers. Exciting times ahead!”