Advertisement

Olympic marathon selection saga over for Weightman

Lisa Weightman has had a last-minute change of heart and reluctantly given up on her dream of contesting a record fifth Olympic marathon, with Commonwealth champion Jess Stenson to complete a remarkable comeback in Paris.

Weightman, 45, appealed her initial non-selection in the three-strong Australian squad to the National Sports Tribunal (NST) in May.

The NST recommended Athletics Australia (AA) appoint an independent committee to reconsider their selection.

AA declined to do so after providing documentation as to why Weightman had been overlooked in favour of Sinead Diver, Genevieve Gregson and Stenson.

Countrywomen Izzi Batt-Doyle and Eloise Wellings had also bettered the Olympic qualifying standard.

Five minutes before the 5.10pm (AEST) deadline on Wednesday, Weightman informed AA she was going to make one final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

But several hours later she did another backflip and decided not to appeal to CAS, due to the high costs and perceived low chance of having the decision overturned in her favour.

Weightman had the third fastest Australian time in the qualifying period behind Diver and Gregson, but the selectors placed great weight in Stenson's proven big-event pedigree, including gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

AA president Jane Flemming backed the selectors' decision to choose Diver, Gregson and Stenson, while acknowledging it was "distressing" for those like Weightman who were overlooked.


Jane Flemming
Jane Flemming has backed Athletics Australia's selectors. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

"As an Olympian, I have seen decades of Olympic teams selected and it is not unusual for there to be debate over decisions of a selection panel such as Athletics Australia's independent and expert body of selectors, and an appeals process exists for this reason," Flemming said in a statement.

"We understand this can be distressing for athletes who miss selection and these matters are often highly charged.

"However the independent body of selectors is made up of industry experts, who understand Athletics Australia's nomination policy and the nuances of the sport."


Jess Stenson.
Commonwealth Games champ Jess Stenson celebrates her 2022 win in Birmingham. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

Weightman has finished in the top 35 at the past four Olympic marathons, with a best of 16th at London in 2012.

"I am of course disappointed by the decision given that I fought hard and fair to gain my qualification time - the third fastest of all Australian women during the qualification period," Weightman said in a statement.

"However, what I am most disappointed about is AA's own internal systems and procedures that have allowed this outcome and which, unless corrected, will negatively impact future Australian athletes and their legitimate claims to represent Australia."

Weightman was bidding to become the first Australian track and field athlete to compete at five Olympics.

Stenson made a triumphant return to elite marathoning in Daegu, South Korea in April, setting a personal best of two hours 24 minutes one second, just six months after the birth of her second child.

In addition to the 2022 Commonwealth title, she has also twice finished in the top 12 in world championships marathons and was 22nd at the Rio Olympics.