Distance running in Australia is stronger than ever and it shows with the announcement yesterday of the three Marathon runners who will be representing Australia at the Rio Olympics. Lisa Weightman, Jess Trengove and Milly Clark were all announced by the Australian Olympic Committee and Athletics Australia.
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!”
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.”
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.”
The men’s team is yet to be announced due to a non-nomination by Jeff Hunt in the team.