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Olympians join Indigenous runners in 'deadly' lap of Uluru

15 June 2018

AOC: A team of ten Australian Olympians will join more than 150 Indigenous runners from across Australia this weekend for a fun run and relay around the base of Uluru.

The Deadly Fun Run is one of a series organised by the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) with participants of all ages selected from 20 communities.

Olympic hurdler Kyle Vander-Kuyp says he’s looking forward to returning to Uluru and meeting the runners who have been selected for attitude, improvement, consistency and participation.

“I am very inspired by what the Indigenous Marathon Foundation has achieved and meeting participants and hearing their stories of the journey they have been on was so positive and uplifting.

“The IMP program gives everyone hope that with goals and a dream anything can be achieved.

“Of course, Uluru is a special place for Indigenous people, so it really is the ideal location. Not all of us come from that land but we do acknowledge that it has this spirituality that we all feel."

Vander-Kuyp will be joined by fellow Indigenous Olympians Baeden Choppy (hockey), Joshua Ross (sprinting), Bradley Hore (boxing) and Nathan Thomas (water polo).

Adding to the Olympic theme is Rio 2016 boxer Shelley Watts and the PyeongChang 2018 bobsleigh team members Lucas Mata, David Mari, Lachlan Reidy and Hayden Smith.

Indigenous Marathon Foundation founder and Olympian Robert de Castella says the presence of the Olympians has a huge impact on the participants.

“Olympians are some of our country’s most talented, dedicated and courageous young men and women, and they are exactly who we need to inspire our Indigenous community leaders," he said.

“Having the AOC teams from both summer and winter Games will provide an incredible storytelling and inspiring opportunity for our runners. They will all return home with amazing stories and images to share and inspire their families and communities.”

A fun run will be held in the morning of Saturday June 16th consisting of a 3km run for juniors and 5km for seniors, while in the afternoon a relay race will start from Mutitjulu then around Uluru featuring teams of four.

Over the weekend both Olympians and runners will also be welcomed to Uluru by the Mutitjulu Community. Each group of participants will present their hosts with a message stick or significant symbol from their own communities as a demonstration of support and appreciation.

Kyle Vander Kuyp summed up his experience after his previous journey to Uluru.

“To go there again, to share our stories and to engage with the community there means a lot to me, particularly to be welcomed by the kids and the elders.

“My favourite memory is struggling myself running over that longer distance and coming across a young boy who had slowed to a walk.

“The young fella really needed a buddy so I stepped in and we walked together, had a bit of a jog and walked again. He made it to the finish and the smile on his face when he got his medal really sticks me to this day.

“I later found out he was a youngster with autism and his mother told me that achievement was massive for him. She said it really means a lot. That’s the essence of the IMF project for me,” Vander-Kuyp said.

Winter Olympic bobsleigh pilot Lucas Mata says the fun run and relay will bring the team back together for the first time since the PyeongChang Games.

“It will be the first time for us at this iconic location which is probably a strange place for a bobsleigh team but we are really looking forward to it," Mata said.

“I think it’s great to help out with these runners coming from everywhere and of course learning from the local community there. We’ve put together a special training program because frankly, none of us are long distance runners.“ Lucas said.

Find our more about the IMF Deadly Fun Run HERE.

Follow the @AUSOlympicTeam Instagram story HERE on Saturday to go behind the scsnes of the event with the bobsleigh athletes.

Strath Gordon

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