Paris Olympics; Genevieve Gregson in five-person marathon team

Controversy over selection politics could not overshadow the joy for Genevieve Gregson, who will become only the sixth Australian woman in history to compete in athletics at four Olympics after overcoming a devastating Achilles injury to make the team for Paris.

Gregson has also made the leap from track to marathon, having her first child during an injury layoff and will join Sinead Diver, Jessica Stenson, Brett Robinson and Patrick Tiernan as Australian runners.

The selection of Stenson, who won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, was the most controversial as she was selected despite a slower qualifying time than Lisa Weightman, a four-time Olympian and two-time Commonwealth Games medallist, who missed out on the team.

This sparked an online war and Weightman rejected the decision to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

But the backlash could not diminish the achievement of Gregson, who suffered a serious injury on the track at the Tokyo Olympics, then switched to the marathon and ran the second-fastest qualifying time to qualify for the fourth Games.

“Four Olympics is so special that I don’t take anything for granted,” she said.

“After Tokyo, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to get back to running at the same level, let alone compete in another Olympics.

“As proud as I am to be a four-time Olympian, I’m more proud that I was able to get back to this level after the struggles I faced three years ago. The rehabilitation from the torn achilles was difficult, but at the same time I was pregnant, so I had this internal motivation to look forward to the end of such a long vacation.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d get to this point and be as strong and fit as I’ve ever been, but looking back now on the journey I’ve made, it’s been a special and exciting challenge for me. I am so grateful that this was the path I took through Tokyo.”

The 47-year-old diver, who set a new national record of 2:21.34 in January 2023, said her family would be cheering her on in Paris.

“It means a lot to me. It is an honor to represent Australia at the Olympics for the second time,” she said. “My first experience was very special, but I hope this one will surpass it as I will be able to share it with my family and friends.

“It means the world to me to have my children there, they are so excited to come to Paris and they are at an age where they will remember it forever.

“I’ve learned a lot in preparation in Tokyo and again based on my build leading up to the Australian record, so I’m hoping to use those tendencies to be in even better shape for Paris. I was so proud to finish tenth in Tokyo, but as athletes we are never satisfied to stay at the same level, we want to constantly improve. I’m going to focus on what I can control and get myself in the best possible shape.”

The 29-year-old Tiernan, like Robinson, made the third Olympic team.

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