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St Lawrence and three walkers added to Olympic Team

2 June 2016

ATHLETICS: Distance runner Ben St Lawrence and three 20km race walkers - Rhydian Cowley, Tanya Holliday and Regan Lamble - have been added to the 2016 Australian Olympic Team. For Cowley and Holliday Rio will be their Olympic debut, while St Lawrence and Lamble are set to build on their London experience. For all athletes it has taken supreme sacrifices and picking themselves back up when injured or out of form.

Jared Tallent, who was already selected to defend his 50km gold* from London, has also been selected to race the 20km event with Cowley and Dane Bird-Smith, who was previously selected.

Lamble was outstanding on Olympic debut four years ago, placing 16th. After a year out from the sport she is back producing big personal bests and is aiming high for Rio. She was recently 12th at the World Race Walking Team Championships in Rome and moved to third fastest Australian in history (1:29.33).

“This selection is very special to me for very different reasons to the first,” 24-year-old Lamble said. “After I took a 12 month break from training in 2014, following a little rough patch, I set a goal with my coach to try and make the team for Rio and I returned to the sport for the right reasons.

“Getting back to full fitness with a relatively short time frame required a big emotional investment. I am very fortunate to have an amazing coach in Brent Vallance and supportive parents and friends. I can’t thank them enough. It doesn’t quite encapsulate it, but I suppose my selection this time feels like it is the product of a really close-knit team effort.”

Holliday has also had an outstanding season to force her way onto the Team. Her personal best (1:29.56) at the World Team Championships moves her to seventh on the Australian All-Time List.

The pair will race alongside Rachel Tallent in Rio. Tallent, younger sister of Jared, won the selection race in February to confirm her selection.

Lamble, Holliday and London Olympian Beki Smith (nee Lee) won the silver medal at the World Team Championships. Smith has got back to career best form after having a child but the competition for the three spots was just too strong in 2016. 

“The depth of the Australian females this year has been great” Lamble said. 

“We have all really pushed and challenged one another this year, which has not only created great depth for us in Australia, but it has made us competitive on a global scale. I admire the other Australian girls a lot, and I hope we can continue to all get the best out of each other.”

Cowley, 25, has been superb to force his way onto an equally strong men’s team. He was spurred on by missing the 2015 World Championship team by one spot, fighting hard to secure his place on the start line in Brazil.

“It was tough to miss out that way, but it only made me hungrier for the Olympics,” Cowley said.

He will race alongside medal hopeful Bird-Smith and Tallent, the 2008 20km bronze medallist.

St Lawrence, Australian 10,000m record holder, has fought back from surgery for a second Olympic Games.

“It's a huge honour, something that I have worked very hard for and am very grateful for,” he said.

“I'll go into Rio with four years more experience and an Olympic final already under my belt. I was 20th in London, I aim to be a lot closer to the front in Rio.

The 34-year-old missed the 2015 World Championships with a 14 centimetre tear in his hamstring.

“I've had a very solid progression since surgery last year, and feel that if I can continue this trajectory I will be positioned to run a race that I can be very proud of in Rio. I may be able to hit career best form just at the right time. 

“This is a truly global event, with superstars from every continent competing. I can't control what they are doing, however I can do everything possible to be in my best shape on race day - so that is what I will focus on.” 

These four additions take the Athletics Section of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 45 and the Team overall to 152, with around 420 athletes expected. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

ANDREW REID
olympics.com.au

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