Five days ago, Madison de Rozario won one of the toughest marathons of her career.
It left her completely exhausted — usually the marathon is the final event in para track and field.
However, she wasn’t going to let that stop her from adding to her growing legacy as one of Australia’s finest athletes.
So, the defending champion hit the track for the 1,500-meter race and, in the process, won her fourth Commonwealth Games gold, the most of any Australian para athlete.
De Rozario had hoped to sit back in the race and watch the field fight it out in front of her before making her charge.
However, it was a slow start, and she knew that, if she was going to win, she was going to have to change her tactics and go for broke.
“I realised I was going to be out front from one lap in. When you commit to taking the lead, you have to just back yourself,” she said.
While she looked comfortable for most of the race, the final stretch was tense.
De Rozario looked to be tiring, as Scotland’s Samantha Kinghorn started to push up.
The Australian — who is coached by retired legendary para athlete Louise Sauvage — managed to find just enough to pull ahead once again, while compatriot Angie Ballard produced a barnstorming final few meters to pip Kinghorn for silver.
“I definitely lost it for a little bit there. Angie came home so strong and Sam’s last 300 [metres] was incredible. [I’m] so happy I just managed to hold on to win,” de Rozario said.
It was extra special to share the podium with her teammate, too.
“She has been in my corner since day one. We’ve been to four Paralympic Games together and to get to do this is its amazing,” she said.
It was even more impressive considering the physical toll the marathon took on her — she described it as one of the most challenging courses she had ever tackled.
And, even though the 28-year-old thought she had recovered, she quickly realised that wasn’t the case.
“About maybe 600 meters into my warm-up, I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m definitely still feeling those 42kms in the arms today’. So, definitely brought that with me out there.”
De Rozario’s racing wheelchair was damaged in transit to Birmingham, and she had to rely on a cable-tie quick fix to hold it together for the marathon.
It’s been a hectic few days since then to get it ready for the track.
“This chair’s been driven all over the UK to try [to] get it fixed and, and I’ve had so many people come together [to help]she said.
“Finishing touches this morning on it, so it’s something in the last-minute, kind of pulled together.”
De Rozario collected two Commonwealth Games gold medals on the Gold Coast in 2018, in the 1,500m T54 race and the T54 marathon.
It’s difficult to ask athletes to reflect on their achievements while they’re still in the thick of competing, so de Rozario is simply enjoying this one before moving on to the next.
“Each race really does exist on its own, and so each one means as much as the last one.
“It’s incredible to look back on a career and be proud of it as a whole, but you remember each race and how it felt in the moment.”
And this moment feels as good as gold.