Sinead Diver has become just the second Australian woman to finish in the top 10 of the marathon at the Olympic Games.
- Australia’s Sinead Diver has made an amazing Olympic debut, finishing 10th in the women’s marathon in Sapporo
- Diver joins Los Angeles silver medallist Lisa Ondieki as the only Australian women to finish in the top 10 in the event
- Diver was born in Ireland, but transferred her allegiances to Australia in 2015, missing out on the Rio Games due to injury
What makes that all the more remarkable is that the Irish-Australian has only been running for 11 years, taking the sport up aged 33 to get fit after her first pregnancy.
The 44-year-old crossed the line after two hours, 31 minutes and 14 seconds — just under four minutes behind race winner, Ethiopian Peres Jepchirchir.
Jepchirchir edged world record holder Brigid Kosgei into second, with American Molly Seidel coming in third.
Diver and the rest of the field slogged around the streets of Sapporo in temperatures that reached 30 degrees Celsius and 69 per cent humidity.
However, despite the stifling conditions that saw 15 of the 88-strong field pull out, Diver grew in strength throughout the race, finishing strongly to overtake Namibian Jelalia Johannes in the closing straight and secure her top 10 finish.
Ellie Pashley and Lisa Weightman came in 23rd and 26th respectively.
Diver follows Lisa Ondieki, who won a silver medal for Australia in the women’s marathon in Los Angeles in 1984, and finished seventh in Seoul four years later.
“I’m speechless, I’m so happy,” she told Channel Seven.
“I had to sprint to get past the girl in front of me, so I’m so happy I managed to do that.”
Born in Belmullet in County Mayo — a small Irish-speaking town with a population of just over 1,000 in Ireland’s west — physical activity was discouraged by the nuns who ran her secondary school, meaning Diver had few options to pursue sport as a teenager.
She moved to Australia in 2002 and has pursued a career in computing.
Diver recorded a 2:34:15 for the marathon in 2014, and was set to represent Ireland at the following year’s World Championships in Beijing, but Athletics Ireland changed the time required to 2:33:30 — she transferred her allegiance to Australia the following year.
Injury ruled her out of Rio, meaning getting to Tokyo was all the more special.
Diver teared up when asked if she had a message for her kids.
“I hope they are proud of their mum,” she said, her voice cracking.
It wasn’t only her kids that she made proud.
She later acknowledged that her dad back in Ireland would be “probably the proudest man in the world”.