Olympian grandson thrills Rita

Rita Cowling of South Grafton with a picture of her grandson Michael Shelley - who has qualified to run in the Olympic marathon.
Rita Cowling of South Grafton with a picture of her grandson Michael Shelley - who has qualified to run in the Olympic marathon.

RITA Cowling is a quiet 84-year-old grandmother from South Grafton, but come August 12 she'll be screaming her lungs out.

The former hospital chef who has lived in the same house for the past six decades, will be cheering on 28-year-old grandson Michael Shelley when he represents Australia in this year's London Olympic Games.

Queensland-based marathon champion Shelley, who netted a shiny silver medal at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games, will be making his Olympics debut - and she says he couldn't be more thrilled.

"If he comes in the first 20 he'll be happy," the proud Mrs Cowling said of the 42km endurance race. "But I'd like to see him come first, second or third."

The 183cm runner, born and bred on Queensland's Gold Coast, is no stranger to this area.

In 1999 he took out the Jacaranda Fun Run trophy, covering 7.3km in 24min 3seconds.

Since then, other career highlights include coming 16th at the World Half Marathon Championship in Rio de Janeiro in 2008, and finishing 10th in the 2012 New York City Half Marathon.

More recently, he won last month's Launceston Ten in Tasmania.

But it was his personal best in Amsterdam late last year of 2 hours 11min 23sec that secured his Olympic Games selection. He will be joined by other Aussies Jeff Hunt and Martin Dent on the starting line.

In the lead-up to the London event, held on the last day of competition, he has been running 200km weekly, led by top distance coach Dick Telford of Canberra.

Shelley, whose father Jim worked at The Daily Examiner, played soccer and NRL as a youngster before turning to pounding the pavement at age 14.

Topics:  london olympics marathon michael shelley

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