A member of one of Australia’s oldest clubs, Randwick Botany Harriers, Morgan McDonald was a leading Australian junior distance runner, leaning more towards the longer distances and cross country. Aged 16, he had already clocked 8:17 for 3000 metres and competed at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in the under-20 race, placing an outstanding 33rd in his international debut. The same year he completed his high school studies at Newington College, a leading Sydney school.
Selected for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon, he had a model preparation with 1500m/mile PBs of 3:45.92/4:04.01 in the weeks before. At the championships, he placed 10th in 14:10.08, just outside his PB. He remained in the US and headed to college to study Business, majoring in finance, at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Within months he was already competing for the college placing 75th in the 2014 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
In 2015 his first track season, and in just his second indoor race, still only aged 18, he sliced 20 seconds off his 3000m PB with a very quick 7:55.20 – an Australian under-20 record. He also ran a mile PB 4:03.81. He again competed at the World Cross Country – U20 race. In 2016, the Olympic year, he smashed PBs across all his events. Commencing with a 3:57.83 indoor mile including 3:41.80 a 1500m PB en route, 7:52.09 in the 3000m and placed 12th in the NCAA Indoor Championships. He continued that form outdoors in 2016 over 5000m with a 32 second PB of 13:34.78, reduced to 13:29.79 placing fifth in the NCAA Championship. He remained four seconds outside the Olympic qualifier and behind a traffic jam of five Aussies.
Morgan embarked on another tremendous 2017 campaign with a 3000m indoor PB of 7:51.19 in February before a stress reaction in his foot meant a slow start to his outdoor season. However, when he did resume competition, he was unstoppable. After a win in the 5000m at his NCAA regional (Big 10) in May, he ran four consecutive PBs at 1500m/ mile and 5000m in America and Europe. He clocked 13:23.28 in June in Oregon, just missing the 13:22.60 standard
for the IAAF World Championships. Next, he clocked a mile PB of 3:55.79. On the last day to qualify for the IAAF World Championships, he nailed the standard with a time of 13:15.83, an eight second PB, moving him to number six in Australian history and second amongst Aussie qualifiers for the London World Championships. Competing at the World Championships, he ran very well, placing a very competitive seventh in his heat (time 13:30.73), missing qualification for the final by two places and half a second.
Determined to give himself the best possible chance to compete for Australia at the home Commonwealth Games, he sought permission from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where temperatures over winter are below zero, to return to Australia to prepare for the Australian Championships. With the blessing of his coach and university he arrived back in Sydney on Christmas eve to train in Australia and continue to study online. The plan worked perfectly when in very humid conditions he won the nationals and Commonwealth Games trials in an impressive time of 13:19.05 confirming his automatic selection for the Games.