From the Australian Olympic Committee
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.
At 26, Clark will make her Olympic debut after producing the qualifying time in her first serious marathon attempt in October last year.
Trengove, 28, is ready to improve on her London debut 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,” she 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.
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,” she 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.”
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.
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 said.
Trengove 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,” she 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.”
The Rio marathons will start and finish at 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 August 14, 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 Australian team to 131, with an expected final team of around 440 athletes.
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.