Gifford: Michael Shelley's hard work pays off

15:50, Jul 28 2014
Michael Shelley
GOLD AND GLORY: Australia's Michael Shelley on his way to winning the men's marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

A New Zealand coach once described slight but brave cyclist Bruce Biddle's physique to me as "basically a rib cage, filled with a great big beating heart."

The phrase comes to mind watching the Commonwealth Games men's marathon, where Australian Michael Shelley, so skinny (he weighs 60kg) a super model would be tempted to suggest he could do with a good feed, runs to gold and glory.

Early on he looks slightly out of place. Kenyan Stephen Chemlany starts with a career best time a lazy five minutes better than Shelley, whose career has almost crashed from problems with stress fractures.

Chemlany, as great Kenyan runners always have, from the days of Kip Keino in the 1970s on, appears to not so much run as glide over the ground on a cushion of air.

There's nothing romantic about how Shelley runs. He travels the 42km step by thudding step. At 6ft he towers over the stars from Africa. From a distance the bunch of five at the halfway mark look like kids on a school trip being supervised by their teacher.

But Shelley is from a school of tough, talented marathon men. His coach Dick Telford's career stretches back to Robert de Castella, who when he beat the great Alberto Salazar in Amsterdam in 1982, he pushed his body so hard he peed blood for a couple of weeks afterwards.

His run to the finish is irresistible. Of course it would have been nice for Kiwis if the winner from Down Under to have been in a black singlet, but this time let's just admire the courage and calculation of this cousin from across the ditch.


Diminutive Scottish tandem gold medal winning cyclist Neil Fachie explains why he has a chimpanzee on his helmet. "Well, I have been referred to by other cyclists as the power monkey."


Best reply to a question at the Games to date has come from England's brilliant triathlete Alistair Brownlee. Asked by presenter Mark Chapman on the excellent late night BBC highlights show why he and brother Jonny weren't out partying to celebrate their team gold medal he said: "We would be, but we had to come here."


If there's one food that features in Glasgow, it's bacon.

At a four star hotel in the city they call them breakfast rolls. At a greasy spoon in an alleyway near Queen St railway station they're bacon butties. At ubiquitous Costa coffee shops they're bacon wraps.

What all have in common is one, two or three slices of bacon in dough, what one of hugely popular Aberdeen crime writer Stuart MacBride's characters brutally describes as "dead pig in bread."

The other shared characteristic is that, just as any honest restaurant will admit that everything tastes better with butter and cream, bacon, charred crisp, or luxuriating in its own beautiful fat, is a treat at any time of the day or night.