In July this year in Lyon, France, Joseph Deng, who graduated from Ipswich Grammar School in 2016, clocked a personal best to break the Australian record for 800m middle distance running.
After a strong 2022, following Covid race cancellations and Achilles injuries, Joseph qualified for the World Championships and Commonwealth Games, becoming a Top 8 Commonwealth Games athlete in the 800m.
After competing on the international circuit in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, today he is in the finest form of his career, hoping to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Joseph was born in Kenya in 1998 at a United Nations Refugee Camp after his mother left Sudan to escape the Second Civil War.
In 2004, his family moved to Toowoomba, and in 2010 to Ipswich where he initially attended Raceview State School. Mentored by his uncle, he was encouraged by a friend to attend after-school athletics at Ipswich Grammar School and be coached by Di Sheppard. He eventually attained a scholarship to our school.
He was selected in the Australian team for the 2016 World Juniors while still 17, and clocked 1:47.90 for 800m. He just missed making the final at the World Junior Championships placing third in his semi.
In 2018 he moved to Melbourne to be coached by Justin Rinaldi. That year, he broke the 800-metre Australian record, which had stood for 50 years! (Since the 1968 Mexico Olympics).
At the end of the 2018 season, Joseph had run four times under 1:45, the most ever by an Australian.
He is the current Oceanian record holder for 800m, having broken New Zealander Peter Snell’s record of 1:44.30 that was set in Christchurch in 1962.
His training partner is fellow-Sudanese, now Australian, Peter Bol, who in 2021 and 2022 became the Australian male 800m record holder with progressively faster times. Peter placed fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021) and won silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
This year (2023), with great determination, Joseph recaptured the 800m Australian title with his new personal best of 1:43.99 in Lyon, France on 8 July. In the world Athletic Rankings, Joseph has held the 10th spot for 5 weeks putting him in contention for Olympics competition.
He also runs sprint distances, with 47.25 over the 400 m and a wind-aided 22.24 200 m. We wish him all the very best for his future races and Olympic dreams and will be proudly cheering him on.
Photo credit: @josephdeng01