Robert de Castella is Australia’s greatest ever marathon runner.
He set the world record in 1981, become Australia’s first Track and Field World Champion in 1983, won two Commonwealth Games marathons in 1982 and 1986 and dominated the event worldwide for most of the 1980’s.
He represented Australia at four Olympic games finishing of 5th,8th, 10th and 26th.
Maybe his best remembered event was the Brisbane Commonwealth Games when he produced the run of the Championships coming from over aminute back to catch, duel and eventually run away from Tanzanian champion JumaIkanga.
His dominance resulted in him being voted "World Best Marathoner"of the 1980’s decade.
An Australian cross-country champion at 22, Rob took up marathon running in 1979 and made his Olympic debut one year later at Moscow at age 23, finishing tenth. Two years later, he claimed his first victory and the world record, at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan.
In 1982, Rob won gold at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the following January he was voted Australian of the Year and honoured with an MBE. He went on to win two Roterdam Marathons and the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki and several other major city marathon and races.
Rob went into the 1984 LA Olympics as clear favourite, but managed only fifth place in the tough conditions. Two years later, he retained his Commonwealth Games title in Edinburgh and won the Boston Marathon in record time. In 1988 he travel to Seoul for the Olympics and placed eighth. Four years later at Barcelona, he ran 26th. Rob retired from the sport after the 1993 London Marathon.
Rob was the Director of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for five years in the early 1990s and repositioned the AIS as a centre of excellence after the drugs in sport debacle of the late 80’s. He was also heavily involved in establishing the elite sports system being used today by our Olympic athletes andteams.
Having made a significant contribution to elite sport, and becoming concerned about spiralling child obesity and inactivity, Rob left the AIS in 1995 to establish his own company, SmartStartfor Kids!
SmartSartencourages all children to be healthy and active and especiallytargets the escalating obesity, por nutriton and inactivity behaviours. SmartStartis based in Canberra and works through the schools around Australia. Tens of thousands of children have been part of this exciting and innovative program and large improvements in child fitness and health have been achieved.
SmartStartis commited to making the health and fitnesof students just as important as their literacy and numeracy and has developed the largest longitudinal database of children’s health and fitnesstaistics in Australia, to enable the production of reports and a range of folow up services for students, parents, schools and government.ts s
In 2004 SmartStartlaunched its adults and corporate health service, SmartStartfor Life!. Since then SmartStarthas worked in the corporate sector and mining industry to profile and report on organisational and individual health and fitness and implement a range of programs to successfully address and monitor the physical health fitness and medical issues that have been identified.
Rob launched a new gourmet bakery and café, Deeks, in October 205. Deeksis a health-focused bakery that specialises in quality grain and gluten freebreads, cakes, pasta, pies and deserts. He now has two bakeries, and a rapidly growing wholesale business.
In January 2003, along with 496 others, Rob and his family lost their home and all their belongings in the terrible Canberra bushfires. Subsequentto this he became heavily involved in the Government’s recovery programs, working with Sandy Hollwayand the ACT Task Force in planning and implementing the process of healing and rebuildng. He worked with the ACT Government in the design and building of a purpose built 2.5 kilometre grass crosscountry running circuit on the slopes of Mount Stromlo now named, the de Castella Cross Country Circuit.
Whilst acknowledging it as devastating, Rob has been a "pillar of strength"for his family and the community and has demonstrated significant leadership and a resilience of character that has helped many get through this difficult situation.
He is also involved in many other health programs and activitieswith charites, government and business.