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Sport 'Not ideal': 43-year-old marathon runner has to wait for Olympic debut

04:55  30 march  2020
04:55  30 march  2020 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Molly Seidel finished second in her marathon debut , which was the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in late February, solidifying her spot to compete in Tokyo. The 25- year - old long-distance runner was set to follow up her stellar first-ever marathon performance at the Tokyo Olympics , which was scheduled

Running a marathon is a gruelling task, even to seasoned and trainer runners in the prime of their youth. But as we all know, age is just a number, and many participants over the years have proven that they can finish a 26-mile run well into ripe, old age.

Sinead Diver finishes seventh at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28, 2019 London, England (Photo by Robin Pope/NurPhoto via Getty Images) © Robin Pope/NurPhoto Sinead Diver finishes seventh at the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28, 2019 London, England (Photo by Robin Pope/NurPhoto via Getty Images) To borrow from a phrase, Sinead Diver took 40 years to be an overnight success.

Now she has to wait again.

Diver is 43 and was set to go to her first Olympics. Look, not wanting to be ageist or anything here, but at 43 she's probably not likely to back it up in Paris for a second Olympics. But then who could discount her?

For now, though, the Ireland-born Australian runner has to wait another 12 months to train and put so many other things on hold.

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The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardized until 1921. More than 800 marathons are held throughout the world each year , with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes

He clocked a 2:28:42 at this year ’s Boston Marathon , placing him in the top 10 marathon runners for his age group globally. That’s very fast. But if you’re at the New York City Marathon this Sunday — or if you have a resolution to run a marathon next year — Memo is likely to be whizzing past you.

Diver is a marathon runner who only took up running after the birth of her eldest son 10 years ago.

Her age is relevant for the fact of how long she has waited for this moment, only for it to be again be pushed away from her. Four years ago she'd have been in Rio for the Olympics but a knee injury stopped her. This time it's the virus that's delayed it. Life keeps finding ways to get in the way of her Olympic dream.

In Pictures: Events cancelled by COVID-19

Yet age is utterly irrelevant to the quality of her performances. She is an elite runner, not just elite ??? for a 43-year-old.

She has been to two world championships, come fifth in the New York marathon, led the London marathon for 25 kilometres to finish seventh, but in the third-fastest time for a marathon by an Australian woman.

On Tuesday this week when news was breaking of the confirmation that the Olympics would be postponed, Diver headed to Melbourne's Botanic gardens with coach Nic Bideau and running stable mate Genevieve Gregson, the steeplechaser and middle distance runner, for an assault on the Tan Track record time.

At 3.827km it is far from Diver's distance - she is just getting into gear at that point - but at least it was if not a race then a challenge. Gregson broke the record when she ran 11 minutes 54 seconds. Diver came in in the fifth-fastest time ever of 12:08.

"The news (of the Olympics cancellation) is not great but we've been expecting it for a few weeks," Diver said.

"It's better than a cancellation if it goes ahead in 2021 it's the best option.

"I still would have gone, definitely. Unless Scott Morrison put an international travel ban on it, but if we could have gone I would 100 per cent would have gone anyway.

"It's now a year later so I presume that everyone qualified for these games will count towards something for 2021.

"I was looking forward to this year. I had to change a lot of things to get ready for it so to extend out by a year is not ideal but it is better than not happening at all."

For Gregson the cruel irony is it has taken four years for her to get fit.

She had her breakout year in 2016 with the Rio Olympics but has basically carried injuries through the world championships and Commonwealth Games years in between.

"I think the first feeling for me was frustration more than anything, I can't say I was sad or crying," Gregson said.

"I have been injured for three years and now I am finally fit. I tried so long to learn from my mistakes and I haven't for so long - I have made the same mistake over and over again in different ways - to finally work out that formula and put it in place and have it pay off this year, it is frustrating now to have it cancelled but at the same time I like to think I have learnt the formula now and I will be better to put things in place for next year.

"Although another year later is not what I needed or wanted it just means another 52 weeks under my belt without an interruption down the road. My goal is to keep the ball rolling for Tokyo."

Bideau said the two stories illustrate the rarity of timing for athletes to peak once every four years at an Olympics, and the challenge that this year's cancellation means for all of those athletes to try to line all of the necessary things up again in 12 months' time.

"It's a tremendous challenge to line up all the ingredients required for great performance - the mental state, the training, the segments of it and they have lined it up really well, they have had a really great last 12 months," he said.

"Whether we can line it up again, well we have to if we want to be in this shape again but we don't know if we can.

"It's easier said than done."

Sprinter Rohan Browning was disappointed but understanding of the cancellation, but also knows that he has youth on his side when considering the 12-month delay.

In fact for a sprinter being that year older and stronger next year will have him theoretically better placed than he would have been this year. Sprinters peak in their mid-to-late 20s, and Browning will be 23 at next year's Games.

"For me it's probably not a bad thing. I am only 22 now so I will only be better with another year of training."

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The Olympic Games postponed to 2021 .
​​© Provided by Sofoot No headache for Kylian Mbappé this summer. It was expected, it is now official: the 2020 Summer Olympics, planned in Japan, are officially postponed to 2021. This was announced by in a press release from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published this Tuesday in the early afternoon. A decision which is obviously explained by the coronavirus pandemic which currently affects the entire planet.

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