The marathon journey towards the Olympics has entered it’s home stretch for Australia’s best distance athletes this week.
A month and a half out from the Tokyo Olympics, a six-member marathon team was announced featuring an experienced roster, Lisa Weightman will be at her fourth Olympic Games, Brett Robinson has moved to marathon running from the 5000m after a 14th placed finish in Rio and Liam Adams returns for his second Olympics, Ellie Pashley, Sinead Diver and Jack Rayner all make their Olympic debut in Tokyo.
The racewalking team announced a third member in Rhydian Cowley who returns for his second Olympics in the 50km walk.
Australia has developed a pedigree in distance events in recent years, qualifying the maximum amount of athletes in three consecutive games.
The women’s trio will be the strongest team Australia has sent to the Olympics, all three have times in the Australian top-8 and despite his switch from the 5000m Brett Robinson and teammate, Jack Rayner notched the fastest marathon times by Australian men in over a decade.
Weightman spoke on how grateful she has been for her family’s support in helping her on the Olympic Journey.
“To join stars of our sport like Lisa Ondieki in being selected for a fourth Olympic marathon is a dream come true,” Weightman said.
“I am extremely proud to have created this opportunity and with everything on my plate, with full-time work, a mum in lockdown and an athlete, I’ve certainly built up the resilience I need to run my best in Sapporo.
“I know every athlete who lines up on the start line in Sapporo has moved mountains to get there – that start line will be a very special place. For me this journey has been one which has only been made possible by my family who have supported me every step of the way.
“Leaving my son at home with my family is the toughest part of the campaign. Family is everything, and I’m expecting to feel very emotional on the start line in Sapporo as I know they will be at home in Australia running it with me.
“I’ve had only two race opportunities in 2020-21 due to the Victorian lockdown. The first was to qualify in Osaka and the second was to run the fastest 10k on Australian soil – a new PB so I can’t complain with my form at 42 – so far I can certainly say that being in your 40s is fabulous!”
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As the third member of the racewalking team, Rhydian Cowley was excited to get a pay off for his years of hard work.
“It’s a great feeling to finally be selected,” Cowley said.
“It’s going to be a really satisfying to line up in Sapporo and pay off for five years of hard work since Rio.
“It will be a relief to get there, and know that we’ve made it despite everything, but the job isn’t over. We need to follow all the COVID restrictions and stay safe so we can get to the start line.”
The distance team will compete in Sapporo, the venue move to the northern city is to compensate for the expected heat in Tokyo during the games. Held between August 6th to 8th, there will be plenty of time to watch in the final days of competition.
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