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'I'm 42, not 92. People think you shouldn't be able to run after you're 40. I think I'm proving them wrong'

Mayo native Sinead Diver, who only took up running aged 32, finished 7th place at the London Marathon.

Diver led in first place at the halfway stage of yesterday's London Marathon.
Diver led in first place at the halfway stage of yesterday's London Marathon.

YESTERDAY EVENING SAW Sinead Diver finally receive the national and worldwide recognition her incredible achievements have been crying out for over the last number of years.

The Mayo-born runner has not lived in Ireland since 2002 and only took up running shortly after the birth of her first child at the age of 32, having moved Down Under 17 years ago.

On Sunday she finished a phenomenal 7th place at the London Marathon, all but ensuring her qualification for next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo where she is set to represent Australia.

It has been a whirlwind past couple of years for Diver, who works in IT. She won the Melbourne Marathon in 2018, recently became the second-fastest ever Irish-born woman over the marathon distance and just this past February set a new world record for marathon running completed by women over the age of 40.

“It’s almost ten years ago that I started running,” she said speaking on the Ray D’Arcy Show on Monday reflecting on yesterday’s incredible performance at the London Marathon, where she actually led in first place at the halfway stage.

“I was 32 at the time. I started running recreationally with a social group and got serious about it maybe four years ago.

LOVE YOUR SISTER RUN Diver has won the Melbourne Melbourne Marathon and is the third-fastest marathon runner in Australian history. Source: AAP/PA Images

“I clocked 2:24.11 in London. That qualifies me [for the 2020 Olympics] but the team won’t be officially selected until next April or May, so I need to hang until then to make sure of it. After yesterday’s results I’m in a strong position — which is good.

“It was a really really strong field,” she continued. “I expected the Africans to go to the front and I expected to be two groups behind actually. But everyone started slowly. It was very windy and nobody wanted to go to the front.

I was determined to get a good time so I needed to race from the start and not kind of race from the halfway, which the Africans like to do. They like to get to halfway and then put in a strong second half, but for me it’s better to go form the start, so I did.”

Diver said the high of her 7th place finish was something she has never experienced before, with the fact that her family was there to see it making the occasion all the sweeter in the English capital.

“I’m still on a high. My family were all over from Ireland. That was really nice. I have two boys. Eddie is nine and Darragh is five. They’re very proud of mum. My husband watched most of the marathon with Eddie and Darragh watched about 5km and then he wanted to watch something else.”

She is now set to represent Australia at next summer’s Olympic Games once the final squads are finalised, with Diver unable to choose Ireland due to IAFF regulations requiring a three-year waiting period before someone can switch allegiance.

“I did qualify for Ireland in 2015 but Athletics Ireland changed the qualifying time after I ran my marathon,” she said. “They set their own standard so I run for Australia and have done since 2015.

“I’d be really proud to represent either country. I’ve live nearly half my life in Australia. I feel like I represent both countries so I think I’m in a very privileged position.

“Most people would have a running career that would span 20 years or so. Just because I started later in life I don’t think that needs to be cut short.

“I’m 42, not 92. People seem to think you shouldn’t be able to run after you’re 40 — I think I’m proving them wrong. I’m proud of that.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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