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Olympians and Paralympians will speak to the students of Leonora

On Friday 31 May 2019, Leonora District High School will play host to a group of Australia’s finest runners.

Led by Olympic and Paralympic Games coach Philo Saunders, the group includes Youth Olympic Games 800m champion Keely Small, the new Paralympic marathon world champion Michael Roeger, and Paralympic 1500m world record holder Jaryd Clifford. Throughout the day, the group of four will share their stories, focussing on the adversity they have overcome in pursuit of their athletic dreams.
 
Coach Philo Saunders, 42, is still one of Australia’s best 1500m runners, having qualified for the last 20 national championships in a row. Combining his athletic and coaching expertise, Saunders will guide the students through a training session that will give an insight into the daily lives of elite runners.
 

(Photo: Philo Saunders and Michael Roeger training in Arizona, USA 2017)
 
“I always get great satisfaction from seeing kids enthusiastic about physical activity. I believe our group of four has some great experiences and motivation that we can hopefully use to inspire the kids,” he said. “My goal is to give kids the opportunity and skills to want to run and improve their fitness.”
 
Keely Small, 17, is already an Olympic champion, having won gold last year in the Youth Olympic Games. Along with a wealth of experience, she will also be bringing her medal to Leonora.
 
(Photo: Keely Small Youth Olympic Games)
 
“I’m looking forward to meeting the kids and being able to share a bit of my love for athletics,” she said. “Sport is such an awesome platform to be able to meet new people and push yourself to be your best. I want to inspire the kids to love the sport they do.”
 
Three-time Paralympian Michael Roeger, 31, is fresh off a world title in the London Marathon. After suffering through years of heartbreak, there was no sweeter feeling than being crowned world champion. 
 
(Photo: Michael Roeger takes gold at this year's London Marathon)
 
“Ever since I was born, I wanted to be the best in the world,” he said. “To finally do it on the streets of London, after years and years of hard work, was a dream come true.”
 
All four will be taking to the streets of Leonora for the famous Golden Gift Mile, including vision-impaired world record holder Jaryd Clifford, 19. Despite the challenges of racing off the track, he is determined to finish the race unscathed. 
 
“Life is about getting out of your comfort zone,” he said. “I can’t wait to get out there and give it a crack.”
 
The group will be available for photos, autographs and a chat throughout the entire weekend. 
 
Written by Jaryd Clifford - Leonora Golden Gift
 

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