Sydney University student and Sydney University Athletics Club (SUAC) member Milly Clark, has officially been selected to run the marathon for Australia at the Rio 2016 Olympics. The selection comes after Clark clocked an exceptional time of 2:29.07 in her debut marathon at the Amsterdam Marathon in October last year. The impressive run was not only good enough for third spot in the race and a Rio qualifying time, it was also the eighth fastest Australian female marathon run of all time.
The 26 year old is at Sydney University to complete her undergraduate degree in sport/exercise science along with her master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics.
Though being new to the marathon, Clark has always been a runner. She grew up a sprinter, and out of high school was awarded an athletic scholarship to attend Drake University, USA for the 400m hurdles. Clark also claimed a national 3000m steeple chase title in 2012.
In 2014 she ran her first half marathon in Sydney, and later that year took out the prestigious Gold Coast Half Marathon, confirming her potential for marathon success. She won the New Zealand Half Marathon and the NSW 10,000m State Championship in 2015 and placed 13th in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff, Wales earlier this year.
It has been a quick rise to the top of the Australian women’s marathon scene for Clark. However it comes as no surprise to the people who have been tracking Milly’s progress, already seeing the benefits of her great work ethic at SUAC by helping the women’s 2015 team win the Winter Premiership for the third consecutive year.
On top of this, Milly has finished runner-up twice in the City to Surf, has won the New Zealand Half Marathon in Christchurch, and was crowned the female NSW Distance Runner of the Year in 2015.
Gaining Olympic selection for women’s marathon running in Australia is no easy bout, with an abundance of exciting talent in the sport at the moment. Clark will be joined by Lisa Weightman and Jess Trengove as the team for Rio 2016. Clark is the rookie of the three as both Lisa and Jess already have Olympic experience.
Weightman will be competing in her third Olympics after coming 33rd at Beijing 2008 and 17th at London 2012, whilst Trengove managed 39th at London 2012. Both have also won bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games.
The talented trio is not only ranked fifth, sixth and eighth on the Australian all-time marathon time list, they have also shown they can produce their best at the big races and are in form.
Milly told the Australian Olympic Committee, “This is without a doubt the greatest achievement of my life. For me it means that I will not only be running for myself but I am running for my country and for everyone else who wasn’t given the opportunity that I have been now. I feel so proud of how far I have come in the past few years and will be extremely excited to show that when I step onto the start line in a few months’ time.”
Clark will now head to Flagstaff, USA in the upcoming weeks to do her first block of altitude training in preparation for Rio.
The Rio marathons will start and finish at the famous Sambódromo, the legendary home of the Rio Carnival parade, with a loop course near the edge of Guanabara Bay. The women’s race will take place on the morning of August 14th.