40-year-old marathoner gets Olympic berth

By John Salvado
AAP
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40-year-old marathoner gets Olympic berth

Michael Shelley has been named as one of Australia's three entrants in the Rio men's marathon.

Having waited more than 20 years to claim a spot on an Australian Olympic team, Scott Westcott wasn't going to get thrown by being forced to cool his heels for another couple of weeks.

Westcott, Liam Adams and reigning Commonwealth champion Michael Shelley were officially named as Australia's three men's marathoners for the Rio Games on Thursday.

The announcement was delayed for a fortnight while Jeff Hunt unsuccessfully appealed his non-selection to an independent tribunal.

With Hunt then deciding not to make a second and final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Westcott was free to set his sights on becoming the oldest Australian track and field athlete to make his Olympic debut.

"Maybe it's not the perfect system but it's supposed to even out any unfair calls," said Westcott, who will be 40 years and 331 days old when he tackles the Rio marathon on August 21.

"It was frustrating to have to sit around, but it's certainly nothing personal.

"I was confident that I had done enough."

On three previous occasions dating back to the Sydney 2000 Games, Westcott had bettered the Olympic qualifying mark, only to be overlooked by the selectors.

Westcott's effort of two hours 15 minutes and 30 seconds at last year's Berlin marathon proved the clincher this time, making him the third fastest Australian qualifier behind Shelley and Adams.

"I've dreamt about this since I was 15 or 16 and I'm just so grateful to get the opportunity," said Westcott, who retired in 2013 before being drawn back to competitive running.

"It just feels right.

"The flame kept burning and I couldn't quite give it away.

"I'm in a really good head-space and in really good physical condition."

Adams, 29, will also be making his Olympic debut in Brazil.

He left it very late before clocking 2:14:58 to finish fifth at the Warsaw marathon on the final weekend of the qualifying period in April.

Shelley is the best-credentialled runner of the trio, having claimed a surprise gold medal in the marathon at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

He was also a creditable 16th at the London Olympics.

The Olympic men's marathon will take place just hours before the closing ceremony in Rio.

Jess Trengove, Lisa Weightman and Milly Clark were named as Australia's three 2016 Olympic women's marathoners last month.

AUSTRALIA'S OLDEST TRACK AND FIELD OLYMPIANS

Willi Sawall - 42 years and 270 days (men's 20km walk at 1984 Los Angeles Games)

Susan Hobson - 42 years and 200 days (women's marathon at 2000 Sydney Games)

Scott Westcott - 40 years and 331 days (women's marathon at 2016 Rio Games)


  • Westcott on Olympic debut