Gold Coast marathon man Michael Shelley was a student at Griffith University when he won silver, running second in his second marathon ever at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
He continues to hold in high regard the support he received from the university at that time as he managed a rigorous training schedule with the latter courses of a business management degree from which he graduated in 2011.
Now, as the 34-year-old faces his first marathon on home soil at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the support from his alma mater endures.
“I know there will be people from my university days at Griffith along the course supporting me on Sunday,” Michael says. “It’s great to see Griffith so involved in the community and supporting my sport as the presenting partner of the marathon at the Games.”
The potential for local support to drive him towards a third podium finish at a Commonwealth Games is not lost on the Oxenford resident, who went to Pimpama Primary School and Helensvale High School before university.
“I think I’ll be using the crowd a little, especially in the latter stages of the race or if I’m going through a bad patch,” the defending marathon gold medalist from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 says.
“That 1-2% lift we get from local support could get me or one of my Australian teammates into the medals or to a PB (personal best time).”
The prospect of reprising Robert de Castella’s storming gold medal run at the Brisbane Games in 1982 is also an exciting one. “I remember how he used the home support to break his opponents. On the last part of the course, where the supporters were close to the runners, he got a boost and pulled away to win.”
Another “little advantage” for Michael Shelley on Sunday (April 15) will be his familiarity with the marathon course which has become his training ground in recent months as he has ramped up his preparations with weekly runs of 200km.
“The course looks quite flat but the Queensland temperatures will slow the pace down a little,” he says.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I’ve never completed a marathon in my home town. There is a little bit of self-pressure but fingers crossed it hopefully will all come together on the day.”
A hometown triumph would arguably be the crowning moment for the Southport-born athlete who ran his first marathon in Rotterdam in 2010 to try “something different”. A 12th place finish immediately put him in the conversation for the Delhi Games six months later and his athletics career turn took a new direction.
“I got the support I needed from Griffith University. I had to take time away from my studies to prepare for Delhi and my lecturers and tutors were more than willing to accommodate me by changing an exam or sending lecture slides while I was overseas.
“I found it a very supportive community. I remember the letters of congratulations I got from Griffith staff after the Games.”