Shaun started his law studies at 31, at a time UNE was one of the only universities offering it externally. “I knew the day would come when I could no longer run professionally. That is exactly why I enrolled to study law at UNE. My transition plan was finishing my running career in the same year I started my legal career,” he says.
This was back in the late 1990s, when UNE mailed out reading materials, and lectures on cassette. “I used to drive around listening to them in the car ... Since I was combining full-time study, part-time work and running internationally, time efficiency was very important.
I recall one year studying on a train from a race in Paris back to my training base in Switzerland, having to swap trains near the border in Basel, and leaving my UNE law unit outline on the train. That required UNE kindly and quickly mailing a new unit outline to Switzerland.
Shaun says representing his country on home soil in 2000 was “beyond my wildest dreams” as a boy growing up in Armidale.
Shaun has represented Australia 24 times, including at the Sydney and Atlanta Olympics; broke several 20-year-plus records in track and steeplechase events in the ’90s; and has held the Australian 3000m steeplechase record for the past 28 years.
He volunteers on the boards of the Physical Activity Foundation, the ACT Olympic Fundraising Committee and the local organising committee for the World Cross Country Championships. He says no amount of talent can beat “persistence and determination”, and having a “real passion for what you do” is the key to any success, athletic or otherwise.
“If someone has a dream in any field of endeavour, I encourage them to pursue that dream unrelentingly,” Shaun says. “As they say, the pain of discipline is ultimately far easier than the pain of regret.”