Indigenous runners take on Dili marathon

By Sara Everingham

Updated Sat Jun 19, 2010 6:26am AEST

This weekend a group of Indigenous runners will compete in the Dili marathon in East Timor in preparation for the New York marathon later this year.

One of the athletes, Joseph Davies from Kununurra, is getting ready for his first test as a long distance runner.

His journey to East Timor to compete in the Dili marathon will also be his first trip overseas.

"I guess I'm very excited, hey. I don't know what to expect - see what happens," he said.

"I heard it used to be like a little civil war country; lot's of war and stuff, but ... it should be good."

It is the first time East Timor has held the Dili marathon and presents a chance for the young country to show it is now a safe place to visit.

The Indigenous runners have been invited to the competition by East Timor's president Jose Ramos-Horta.

"Yeah, I reckon it's good, for someone big like him; to know that he's watching us and know what we're up to. I think it's great," Davies said.

The trip is part of a program started by former marathon champion Robert de Castella.

He scoured the country to find Indigenous people with the talent to become successful long distance runners.

The runners are all AFL players from communities and towns in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Darwin based ABC sports commentator Charlie King is one of the group's mentors and says there are some brilliant Indigenous athletes around the country that could make it as runners.

"For too long I think we've always thought, you know, young Indigenous boys should be trained to be Australian Rules footballers," he said.

"If they don't quite make it as Australian Rules footballers then maybe they should be Rugby League players, and if they don't quite make it there then maybe they should be basketballers and then if they don't make it there maybe they should be boxers.

"You don't need much to run and it also leads to a healthy lifestyle and all of those other things. It also complements if you're going to play other sports. So, you know, there's multiple benefits to it."

King hopes the runners will return from New York and help generate more interest in long distance running in their communities.

"To run a marathon's a mighty achievement. To run a marathon in New York isa fantastic achievement. They should use that opportunity when they come back to encourage other kids to do it and other people to do it," he said.

"I hope they carry that responsibility when they come back."

Source: ABC News

No comments:

Post a Comment