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Philo Saunders named Athletics Australia Para Athlete Coach of the Year

11 June 2020

Congratulations to Philo Saunders, AIS senior physiologist and coach to Paralympians Michael Roeger, Jaryd Clifford and Deon Kenzie, who has been named Athletics Australia’s 2019 Para Athlete Coach of the Year.

Coach Philo Saunders, centre, with athletes Deon Kenzie, Jaryd Clifford, left, and Michael Roeger and
Coach Philo Saunders, centre, with athletes Deon Kenzie, Jaryd Clifford, left, and Michael Roeger and Tim Logan.

The 2019 Athletics Australia Awards were held online with winners announced on social media last night.

Philo had an impressive 2019, coaching Roeger, Clifford, and Kenzie to podium finishes at the World Para Championships in Dubai.

Speaking from home to host John Steffensen, Philo said 2019 was a really enjoyable year.

“It’s great when all the athletes you coach reach their potential in a year and at the major championships. I’m really proud of all the athletes. I’ve been doing it since I was in high school, I just love getting out and training and pushing my body as hard as I can, trying to better myself every day.”

“I think the athletes appreciate that, seeing that I’m doing the sessions with them. I think as a squad that’s what we do well, we love to see each other do well, and we thrive off that.”

Philo also shared how his athletes are preparing for Tokyo.

“The decision to postpone was a really good one,” he said. “It gave clarity to the athletes – they’ve got another 14, 15 months to get better – that’s the way I’ve been looking at it. I’ve been using this period to try and get everyone in better shape and to keep everyone motivated.”

With a lot of his athletes based in Canberra, Philo thanked the AIS for its support, with athletes using the strength and conditioning gym, the track, physio, massage and monitoring – all to get them in the best possible shape.

“Everyone is tracking along really well, and I can’t wait to 2021 to hit Toyko really hard.”

Paralympian and Clearinghouse staff member Michael Roeger was also nominated for Para Male Athlete of the Year after his T46 world record win at the World Para marathon championships in London, and his silver medal in the 1500m at the World Para Championships.

Congratulations Philo and Michael!

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