One of the most intense selection contests for this year’s Paris Olympics is among Australia’s women marathoners.

Only three athletes can go to Paris, but during the past 18 months of the Olympic qualification period, six Australians have run faster than the Olympic entry standard of 2:26:50.

And all six are amongst the top-eight fastest Australians of all-time. 

Gregson determined to make her mark in marathon

The Valencia marathon in December last year was a breakthrough, with four of the Australian women running qualifying times, including three-time Olympian on the track Genevieve Gregson.

“Some people might say ‘this is your fourth, why is this more special?’, and it’s not because I’m trying to make my fourth Olympics, it’s what I’ve overcome to be in this position,” Gregson told ABC Sport.

At the Tokyo Olympics, upon landing the final water jump of the 3,000 metres steeplechase, the 34-year-old ruptured her Achilles tendon.

Gregson thought her career was over after her injury in Tokyo.(Getty Images: Christian Petersen)

“In Tokyo, I started telling friends and family my career is over and I’ll never be able to run again, and it petrified me because I love the sport,” she said.

“I thought: ‘Do you want to leave this sport when you didn’t get to decide? Because it was taken away from me from a freak injury?’ I just wasn’t willing to let that be the end.

“And I started to make the comeback not knowing that it would work, but I thought I have to at least try and if it doesn’t work, I can say I gave everything.”

After Tokyo, Gregson gave birth to her son Archer, now 22 months, and found a new resolve – to make the marathon her own.

“When I moved up to the roads, it was like I should have been here for a long time, it was just meant for me,” she said.

“When I had these little victories along the way, I just kept chasing and chasing like a dangling carrot.

“And to look back at the journey it’s actually hard to believe I had confidence that I’d get here, but something inside me had a feeling I would, and I wouldn’t give up until I gave it all trying.”

Batt-Doyle confident in securing her ticket

Izzi Batt-Doyle is another track athlete eyeing off the roads of Paris.

The 28-year-old is also hoping to make the team in the 5,000m, an event she competed in at Tokyo.

Izzi Batt-Doyle is hoping to earn selection in the 5,000m and the marathon.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

She posted a marathon qualifying time in Valencia last year, breaking the South Australian record.

“We’re just rewriting the record books and it’s pretty amazing to be part of that era of women’s distance running in Australia,” Batt-Doyle told ABC Sport.

“When I crossed the line in Valencia last year running a personal best, it was mixed emotions to be so excited to run such a fast time.

“Then to realise I was walking away not locked in for an Olympic spot, I think that was quite a bit of frustration there as well.

“But I just feel fortunate that I’m in a position where I feel very confident in my fitness, very confident in my body and my mental state that I’m going to make it to Paris, regardless.”

Final selection looms

Australia’s Jess Stenson celebrates a gold medal in the women’s marathon at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.(Getty Images: Mark Kolbe)

The other key contenders include Sinead Diver – who set a new Australian record with her run in Valencia in December 2022, near the start of the Olympic qualification period.




Sinead Diver

Valencia, December 2022


Genevieve Gregson

Valencia, December 2023


Lisa Weightman

Osaka, February 2023


Izzi Batt-Doyle

Valencia, December 2023


Jessica Stenson

Daegu, April 2024


Eloise Wellings

Valencia, December 2023


Lisa Weightman has the third fastest time, while Eloise Wellings is in sixth spot.

Although Jessica Stenson has the fifth fastest time in the qualification window, the 2022 Commonwealth Games marathon champion has strong claims for selection.

She ran a personal best time at the Daegu marathon earlier this month, just seven months after giving birth to her second child Ellie.

Batt-Doyle said the depth of talent has helped push her to new heights.

“I’ve seen other women around me pushing the boundaries of what we think is possible and what we think is a good time,” she said.

Batt-Doyle (left), Eloise Wellings (centre), and Gregson (right) after last year’s Valencia marathon.(Supplied)

“And then it makes you believe ‘I work just as hard as that person, I’m just as talented’. And you have to keep changing your expectations of what is possible.”

Gregson admits the process has been challenging on many levels.

“The hardest thing I found about trying to get selected for Paris is that I have to beat out my friends to do it,” she said.

“But it’s also been nice because we’ve been on this wave together. And I feel like everyone’s been so supportive.

“There’ll be nothing sweeter than being selected in that team because of what it represents. The family that have got me there, the village that have all come together to give me the opportunity to be there.”

The qualification period ends on April 31, and selectors will announce the chosen athletes in May.