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Shelley's 16th leads the way in marathon

13 August 2012

ATHLETICS: Australian Michael Shelley exceeded his own expectations with a creditable 16th place finish in the Olympic men's marathon. 

On a warm, sunny day in central London, Shelley started conservatively under orders from his coach Dick Telford, before powering the through the field in the second half of the race, clocking a time of two hours 14 minutes and 10 seconds. 

Stephen Kiprotich claimed Uganda's's first Olympic athletics gold medal for 40 years, shocking the favoured Kenyan runners to win in 2:08:09. 
Kenyans Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang were second and third. 

Shelley was the leading Australian, ahead of Martin Dent (28th in 2:16:29) and Jeff Hunt (63rd in 2:22:59). 

"I can't believe it's a top 16 - words can't describe it," said the 28 year-old Shelley. 

"I'm shocked and surprised and so thankful for my coach and the efforts he has put in. 

"At around halfway I started to pick up people. 

"I tried to stay as conservative and relaxed as I could in that first half. 

"I followed instructions as best as I possibly could and got a great result out of it." 

Shelley, from the Gold Coast, had done most of his preparations in hot conditions. 

Even so, it quickly became apparent to him that Sunday's race would be a gruelling one. 

"After the first 3K I was starting to sweat and I knew this was going to be a pretty difficult marathon," said Shelley, who was second in the 2010 Commonwealth Games marathon in sweltering New Delhi. 

"I was thinking to just get through it as best as I possibly could." 

The only two Australians to have run faster in an Olympic marathon than Shelley did on Saturday were greats Robert de Castella and Steve Moneghetti. 

Dent was thrilled to have lived the Olympic dream at the age of 33. 

"I ran as hard as I could, paced myself as good as I could and it was two seconds quicker for the second half," he said. 

"It certainly was one of the better last 10Ks of a marathon I have done and to finish high 20s is a pretty good result and I'm satisfied with that. 

"There was a bunch of crazy guys go out early and only about three of them can hold onto the 2:06 pace they went out at so I was able to run past a few at the end." 

John Salvado in London

AAP

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