Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) gold medalist, Madison de Rozario, recalls waiting for a flight at JFK Airport last November two days after competing in the New York Marathon. An ‘Introduction to Management’ assignment for uni was on her mind.

“I had most of it done but hadn’t thought of requesting an extension, and it was due,” the 24-year-old Griffith business student says. An email from JFK to her tutor back in Australia secured the short extension required.

Madi had initially set aside the idea of university studies when she moved from her hometown of Perth to Sydney and stepped up her pursuit of elite sport.

“A sporting career is a very short life span so I thought I’d focus on sport for the foreseeable future. I was travelling so much with my training and competition and studying [a double degree at the time] had been a very slow process,” she says.However, guided by her performance excellence advisor who believed firmly that athletes with more balanced lives are much more successful and balanced people, Madi decided to revisit the study idea.

This time she enrolled to study in a Bachelor of Business at Griffith University, initially studying online through Open Universities Australia, and soon started to recognise the benefits of having something else to focus on for a little while at sports meets around the world.She had also come to the attention of Naomi McCarthy, Manager of the Griffith Sports College, who opened the door to a myriad of study options, scholarship opportunities and a degree of flexibility Madi had not considered before.

Madi was also delighted to learn that her university of choice for study is also the Presenting Partner of the marathon event at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, a race she now has in her sights following her powerful gold medal performance at Carrara Stadium on Tuesday night in the Women’s T54 (Wheelchair) 1500m Final.

She’s planning to be at the starting line at Southport Broadwater Parklands early on Sunday morning (April 15).

“I think it’s amazing and a wonderful coincidence that Griffith is the Presenting Partner for the marathon. It’s great to see a university partnering with an event like the marathon which is so much a part of my life,” she says.

She describes the Games as the biggest event she is doing this year. She aims to back up her Gold Coast efforts at the London Marathon just a week later.

Madi has used a wheelchair since the onset of an autoimmune disease as a young child. Her light has shone brightly since she emerged as a world-class athlete at the age of 14 at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and won silver as part of the Australian team in the Women’s 4 x 100m relay T53/54 event.

A series of highlights followed including gold in the T53 800m at the IPC Athletics World Championships in 2015 in Doha and gold in the T54 5000m at last year’s World Para Athletics Championships in London. Sandwiched in between are two silver medals from the T53 800m and T53/54 4 x 400m relay at the 2016 Rio Games.

As her medal haul has been bulked up over the years, so too has her upper body strength and her appetite for longer distances. Now the 42km of a marathon are calling her.

“There is pretty much nothing more satisfying than crossing the finishing line. You start a marathon and first you’re regretting it and then the pain comes but as soon as you’re across the finish line, you are filled with a feeling of elation, relief and satisfaction that goes on for days and weeks.”