Robert de Castella AO MBE (Deek) was blessed with high aspirations and expectations.
He ruled the world through the 1980’s in the most demanding running event, the marathon, setting world records, winning the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games marathon twice and is still the fastest Australian over the distance, with a winning time of 2.07:51 in the 1986 Boston marathon.
He is a high profile national figure campaigning for a greater preventative approach to health care, especially in regard to addressing children’s obesity and declining health.
He is a Board member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame chairing their Selection Committee, and is an occasional sports media commentator.
He is still very active and fit, still runs and trains every day and has his Yondan (Fourth degree black belt) in Traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu karate.
He was awarded an MBE and was Australian of the Year in 1983.
In 1991 his international peers in Track and Field acknowledged him as the World’s Best Marathon Runner of the 1980 decade.
He retired from competitive sport after his fourth Olympics in 1992, and took up the position of Director of the Australian Institute of Sport. He led the institute through its golden era, building a winning culture leading into the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
In 1995 he left the AIS to establish his own charity, SmartStart for Kids (www.smartstartforkids.org.au), to address escalating child obesity.
In 2003 he showed incredible strength and resilience when he and nearly 500 other Canberrans were made homeless, after losing everything in the Canberra fires. He worked with the ACT Government on the Recovery Task force, and has contributed to rebuilding Canberra after the devastation.
In 2006 he pioneered and launched “Deeks Health Foods”, a 100% grain free and gluten free food business (www.deeks.com.au), especially for people with compromised immune systems, and is building it into a national business.
In 2010 he launched The Indigenous Marathon Foundation (www.imf.org.au), a health promotion charity that uses running, and especially the New York City Marathon, to inspire and change the lives and future of Indigenous Australians and our celebrate Indigenous culture.
In 2014 he received an AO for his work since retiring as an athlete.