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Road to Rio Confirmed for Three Marathon Men

12 May 2016

RIO 2016: The road to Rio 2016 is long for all athletes, yet marathon runners have literally run to Brazil and back several times over in determination to wear the green and gold at the Olympic Games.

Today the places on the men’s marathon start line were confirmed by selectors for Liam Adams (VIC), Michael Shelley (QLD) and Scott Westcott (NSW). These three men join Milly Clark, Jess Trengove and Lisa Weightman who were selected last month.

Shelley is the 2014 Commonwealth Champion and, after a superb 2015, the Gold Coast runner is on track to improve on his 16th place on Olympic debut at London 2012.

Adams will make his Olympic debut in Rio after forcing his way on the team with a fantastic fifth at the Warsaw Marathon on the final weekend of the qualifying period.

Westcott is a remarkable story of persistence. He will become Australia’s oldest athletics competitor to make his Games debut when he takes the Rio starting line at the age of 40 years and 331 days.

His performance in the Berlin Marathon in October 2015 was enough to secure a spot for the father of three, who has been chasing his Olympic dream since the 90’s.

“I still can’t believe it,” the Newcastle runner said. “My dream began when I was 16, I had run qualifying times for three Olympic Games back since Sydney 2000, and for some reason my attempts to retire from competitive running in 2013 were only half hearted. Something kept me going.”

Westcott said having hunger and wonderful coaches over the years is the secret to his selection at 40.

“Having hunger and desire are essential,” Westcott explained. “No doubt all athletes on the Australian Olympic team have this. I believe I have kept my hunger burning for close to 20 years.

“The secret physically is having a series of wonderful coaches who all worked together in building an athlete rather than flogging one. I am proud beyond words to represent all the people who have helped me along the long road I have taken. Special mention to my late Dad, Lawrie Westcott, who passed away in late 2014.”

Westcott is confident he is on track for a top performance in Rio.

“I am probably in the best head space of my career. Training is going well and not having just completed a marathon in early 2016 means I am fresh and ready to go. I believe I can lower the Australian Masters record I set last year in Berlin of 2:15:30. I will prepare as smart as I can and run myself into a peak for August 21. Bring it on!”

Westcott will be the third oldest athletics competitor to wear the green and gold at the Olympics behind 50km walker Willia Sawall (42 yrs 270 days) and marathon runner Susan Hobson (42 yrs 200 days).

Michael Shelley, 32, had a fantastic Olympic debut when 16th in London and in winning the 2014 Commonwealth Games (2:11.15) he became the first Australian man to do so since Steve Moneghetti in 1994.

Shelley was 12th in the London and Berlin marathons in 2015 to produce the two quickest times by an Australian in the qualifying period. His London run was only four seconds off his Glasgow form.

“Ever since the Glasgow Commonwealth Games my target has been making the Australian Olympic Team for Rio,” Shelley said. “It is pretty special and exciting to be able to go to Rio for my second Olympics.”

Shelley has learned a lot from the London Olympics and knows what it takes to produce the best performance of your career on the last day of the Games.

He has been coached by legend Dick Telford with the pair continuing to produce top performances at the biggest races.

Liam Adams, 29, produced a fantastic run at the Warsaw marathon on 24 April to finish fifth in (2:14.58) and be the second fastest Australian in the Olympic qualifying period.

“I was mainly elated but also quite relieved,” Adams, said of his last ditch performance.

“I was in great shape in my previous marathons in the qualification period and had some absolutely shocking performances, so I put myself under a tremendous amount of pressure to improve my qualifier on the final day of selection. It was off a very short turn-around from my last marathon so I’m actually quite pleased with the time I managed to get in Warsaw.”

Adams set a personal best of 2:13.49 when he was seventh at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Olympic selection is something he has been thinking about and working towards for years.

“I’ve been dreaming of making the Australian Olympic Team since I was a kid. I haven’t really been close to making the Team previously but I thought I was in with a big chance of making it this time around.

“There is no doubt that this is the highest level of sport that anyone can represent Australia in. So I will wear the green and gold with honour & pride and leave nothing left behind. I'm looking forward to pushing myself hardier than I ever have before.”

The Melbourne runner is confident he’ll be primed for Rio where he will have big cheer squad.

“I’ll have a couple of weeks of absorbing Warsaw and the previous marathon preparations then I will really start to amp up the training back in Melbourne. I’ll get at least a minimum of 3 months of 180km plus weeks with some very tough sessions that will have me primed for Rio.”

The Rio marathons will start and finish at the famous Sambódromo, the legendary home of the Rio Carnival parade, with a loop course near the edge of Guanabara Bay. The men’s race will be held on the final morning of the Games, Sunday August 21.

These three athletes take the Athletics section so far to 41 and the overall Team to 137, with an expected final Team of around 440 athletes.

ANDREW REID
olympics.com.au

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