Langhorne Creek's Michael Roeger is ready for the Tokyo Paralympics

The medals are flowing for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, but the Fleurieu Peninsula and in particular the wine region of Langhorne Creek is waiting for only one event.

That event is the marathon at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which will be on September 5 and will feature the Creek's favourite son, Michael Roeger.

The Paralympic Games run from from August 24, to September 5, so it is an agonising and anxious wait for the community and Michael himself.

He competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics in athletics in middle distance running events. He has won one gold and three bronze medals at the IPC Athletics World Championships and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. But no Paralympic gold and that drives the 33-year-old, as he prepares to compete at his fourth Paralympic Games.

The T46 (arm amputee) athlete has one goal and that is to win Paralympic gold.

"In the Tokyo Paralympic Games I will compete solely in the marathon. I had the option of competing in the 1500 metres as well, as I qualified in it and it is at the start of the program and marathon at the end, but I feel my best chance of living out my dream and winning gold is to put all my energy and focus in the marathon," Michael said.

"It has been a long five years since Rio, I didn't quite get the result I wanted there. The nerves are in a good place at the moment.

"I feel like I am ready to go now, which is a scary thing. I am usually needing these last weeks of a marathon prep, but I am feeling the fittest and strongest physically and mentally I have ever felt. I just have to make sure I don't over do it now."

Michael will not fly into Tokyo until only a few days before the race.

Due to COVID, athletes are having to deal with lockdowns and various other restrictions and need to be in a bubble environment before departing Cairns.

"We will need COVID tests daily once arrive in Tokyo and the week before we leave. Whilst there, there will be strict protocols in place and athletes leaving directly after they compete," he said.

"Preparation over the last 18 months has obviously been a lot different to what I thought it would have been going into Tokyo.

"I guess one of the strengths as an elite athlete you carry, is adaptability and being flexible with controlling what you can control. My preparation has been really positive this year. Coming off the back of a serious pelvis bone stress injury last year I started the year building a solid foundation and working on my speed.

"I broke my own 5000 metre world record in March at the Australian Championships running 14:00.25, I then went on to break my marathon world record in April (2:18.51). It wasn't the perfect race, but got the job done.

"I had a little break after that race and haven't missed a beat since. I raced the Launceston 10 kilometres in June, which was a good hit out under heavy load.

"I was supposed to run the Gold Coast half marathon, but unfortunately it got cancelled due to COVID. I am currently in Canberra living at altitude in the environmental chamber at a simulate plus 3000 metres, with doing heat sessions and runs in the environmental chamber to get ready for the Tokyo conditions.

To top off his preparation Michael will race the Townsville Running Festival half marathon on August 1, before the final camp in Cairns.

Michael has a strong focus and wants to make Tokyo his crowning moment.

"As a young fella running around the vineyards at my hometown Langhorne Creek and kicking the footy at Hawk Park, I had one vision, one dream, to be the best and win," Michael said.

"The expectation coming into my fourth Paralympic Games is to win and finally bring the gold home! In saying that, it is a marathon and anything can happen. I will just continue to prepare the best I can to give myself every chance on September 5."

Michael will fly home the day after the marathon, September 6 and after landing back in Australia will need to do two weeks hotel quarantine, which may be tougher that competing in the Paralympics.

"I am someone who can't sit still and it might be hard after I reckon four days. I will need a treadmill and maybe a few Langhorne Creek celebratory vinos. After hotel quarantine I hope to come back home to see everyone," Michael said.

The marathon will be the last day of the Games, Sunday, September 5, at 6.30 in the morning and the town of Langhorne Creek will be awake and cheering on their local champion.


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