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Three Marathon Women Selected to Race the Streets of Rio

29 April 2016

ATHLETICS: Women’s marathon running in Australia is extremely strong making the achievement of earning selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games even more rewarding for Lisa Weightman, Jess Trengove and Milly Clark.

This talented trio are not only ranked fifth, sixth and eighth on the Australian All-time list respectively, they have shown they can produce their best at the big races and are in form.

Clark at 26 makes her Olympic debut after producing the qualifying time in her first serious marathon attempt in October last year, 28-year-old Trengove is ready to improve on her great debut in London and Weightman at 37 is looking to crack the top-10 at her third Games.

Weightman, who was 33rd at Beijing 2008 and 17th at London 2012, not only has experience on her side she now has her young son Peter as part of her cheer squad.

“I'm an experienced marathon runner now and Rio is an opportunity to run my heart out and be proud that I've given it everything I have,” Weightman, who won bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said.

“Rio to me, is about family sacrifice, team work and persistence. I recently had a charming little boy and I am so glad he will get to see me run on TV in the green and gold - I want to make him proud of his mum!”

Weightman was referred to as the ‘super mum’ in the running community after finishing second at the Houston Marathon in January, only 13 months after the birth of Peter. Her time of 2:27.53 easily surpassed the Rio qualifying time and was not much slower than her fantastic run at the London Games (2:27.12). Only Olympic silver medallist Lisa Ondieki has produced a faster run by an Australian woman at the Olympics.

“I am so excited to be competing against the best marathon runners in the world in Rio and will wear the green and gold with pride and courage. I know how to compete and I know how to prepare which helps build confidence.”

On the other end of the experience scale, Clark ran her first serious marathon in October last year, with her third place in Amsterdam. Emotions are running high as her selection is confirmed.

“Over the past few days since receiving the news - I have felt a mixed bag of emotions,” Clark explained.
“Pure happiness, excitement, pride, fear and even sadness for the other women who made the qualifying mark but missed out on their dream of the Olympics.

“This is without a doubt the greatest achievement of my life. For me it means that I will not only be running for myself but I am running for my country and for everyone else who wasn't given the opportunity that I have been now. I feel so proud of how far I have come in the past few years and will be extremely excited to show that when I step onto the start line in a few months’ time.”

The Olympic seed was planted for Clark back in 1996 when she was watching the Atlanta Games with her dad.

“For me – I think back to that seven year old sitting in front of the TV and remembering how I was inspired by all our Aussie athletes. Now that I have the chance to represent Australia at the Olympics – it will be my turn to inspire someone watching on their TV. There is nothing more satisfying than achieving your goals or dreams no matter how big or small.

“I may not be as experienced as some of the other competitors but I also see it as an opportunity to work harder and take advantage of the challenge. For me, having an open mind with no expectations will ensure I have the greatest experience of my life as I don't think it's comparable to anything else.

“I won't be afraid to try new things or train in new places to test myself and find out what I am capable of.”

Clark will head to Flagstaff in the United States in the coming weeks to do her first block of altitude training.

To the average Australian sports fan Trengove is probably the best known of the selected trio – and not because of her brother Jack who plays in the AFL.

At the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow she moved through the field in the final stages to claim the bronze medal while a huge audience watched in prime-time back in Australia.
“I experienced the energy from my teammates in Glasgow, like when I heard Michael Shelley won the marathon, I really think that helped my squeeze more out of myself on the day.”

She again had Australian fans cheering when she ran a personal best and Rio qualifier in October to win the Melbourne Marathon.

“It’s a pretty unreal moment to make my second Olympics,” Trengove said. “I’m still pinching myself that it has been four years since London, and it’s a huge honour, particularly this year when the competition has been so strong.

“The Australian female marathon runners are all in really strong form and there are girls improving every year. The competition has been really tough but I think it has helped us to get the most out of ourselves and really push our own limits, which makes selection more special.”

She is looking forward to using her London experience and harnessing the atmosphere in Rio.

“I learnt a lot from the London experience. Being in a team with Lisa Weightman and Benita Willis, I spoke with them and watched them and tried to take in as much as I could. Race day was a huge learning experience.

“There was so much noise and people everywhere. I’ll know that there won’t be many points around the race where you can have some peace and quiet, but just noise and commotion the entire way which I am looking forward to embracing and am hoping that will help me to put my best performance on the board.”

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 women’s race will take place in the morning of 14 August, which is the third day of the athletics competition at Rio 2016.

These three athletes take the Athletics section so far to 38 and the overall Team to 131, with an expected final Team of around 440 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

There has been an appeal against the non-nomination of an athlete in the men’s marathon. Nominations for this event will be made to the Australian Olympic Committee once the appeal process has concluded.

ANDREW REID
olympics.com.au

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