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Zibeon joins exclusive group of Indigenous marathon champions

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Indigenous male holding a medal.
Zibeon holds up his medal after achieving his goal.
30 Nov 2016

Zibeon Fielding recently joined an exclusive group when he finished the most famous running race in the world.

Zibeon was part of the 12 member Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) team who ran the 2016 New York Marathon. They joined a field of more than 50,000 runners with thousands more supporters lining the streets to cheer them on.

From Mimili in the APY Lands of remote northern South Australia, Zibeon was well prepared for the race after months of training out in the bush by himself, often startling the local wildlife.

Zibeon, who had never run a marathon before, spent six months following an intensive training program, meeting up with the rest of his IMP squad members, and founder and director of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation Robert de Castella every six weeks for a week-long camp at various locations around Australia

Out of the IMP runners, Jesse Thompson from Mt Druitt in western Sydney led the squad to the finish, completing the race in a time of 2 hours 45 minutes. Zibeon ran an impressive 3:28, and on reaching the finish, was overcome by the enormity of his achievement.

“It was amazing,” Zibeon said.

“It really took me to a whole new world, but thinking of my family back home got me through it.’’

Group of three Indigenous males, holding up flags behind them.
Jesse Thompson of Mt Druitt, Zibeon Fielding and Saliman bin Juda of Thursday Island celebrate completing the New York Marathon.

IMF head coach Adrian Dodson-Shaw, a 2014 graduate of the program, travelled with the squad to New York. He said his second visit to New York was possibly even more exciting than his first.

“It has been a privilege to watch each and every one of them fulfil their dream to cross the finish line of the New York City Marathon,” Adrian said.

“They are graduates now, and their journey doesn’t stop here. I look forward to seeing them return home as community heroes, inspiring others to follow their dreams and live long, healthy, active lives.”

Prior to the founding of the Indigenous Marathon Project in 2010, no Indigenous man or woman had completed any major international marathon. Now, there are 65 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander IMP graduates who have all completed an international marathon.

They have all inspired thousands of others to get active and improve their health and fitness but also have shown family and community how proud, strong and determined young Indigenous men and women are, when driven by their purpose of making life better for the next generation.

Find out more

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that Indigenous people improve their health and enjoy the emotional and social wellbeing experienced by other Australians.

The Indigenous Marathon Foundation plays an important role in this commitment, encouraging Indigenous people to live healthier and more active lives.

Each year the Indigenous Marathon Project selects a squad of young Indigenous men and women (aged 18 to 30 years), to train for the New York City Marathon, complete a compulsory education component – a Certificate III in Fitness – and through their achievements celebrate Indigenous resilience and success.