Clifford collapsed on the track after picking up a silver in his 5000m event, so will be welcoming more favourable conditions for arguably the toughest race at the Games.
“We prepared for the worst,” Saunders told the Sun-Herald. “When we first got here it was pretty oppressive conditions. Jaryd’s 5000m was apparently 43 degrees on the track.
“It was looking like it was going to have to be a really conservative pace and strategy … a survival of the fittest and strongest in really tough conditions. A few days ago a change came through and it’s been pretty mild every day.
“I’ve been running with the boys every day and it’s a lot easier to run in these conditions. You generally just feel a bit more energetic too with the cooler weather. We’ve done so much heat acclimation and they’re going to be ready.
“It’ll still be 20 degrees and high humidity, so it’s going to be warm in the back-end of the race, but it’s not going to be that battle that it would have been in those high 30s.”
Clifford will have his guide, Tim Logan, assisting him around a course that weaves through the city, while Roeger will be looking to pick up a second Paralympic medal after his third place in the T46 1500m final in Rio five years ago.
Roeger has a right arm limb deficiency. His world record time from this year would have seen him finish 46th overall at the Tokyo Olympics and second-fastest of the Australians who competed.
“Michael has come from a track background and we made the switch in 2018 to the marathon,” Saunders said. “In the marathon he has gone from strength to strength. It seems like his natural distance.
“I think he’s in better shape [than when he broke the world record]. Some of the sessions he was doing in Canberra before we went up to Queensland suggested he [could go] two hours and 15 minutes or better.
“The next guy in his class is two hours and 25 minutes. On paper, he’s a class athlete but he’s got to do it on the day.”
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