A marathon feat – Jessica Stenson wins gold
SASI athlete Jess Stenson (nee Trengove) put in a herculean effort to bring home gold for Australia in the Women’s Marathon in Birmingham.
It was the first time Stenson had stood on top of the podium at the Commonwealth Games after coming away with bronze medals at the Gold Coast Games in 2018 and Glasgow Games in 2014.
The win marks a remarkable comeback for Stenson who had to miss out on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics because of a bone-stress injury where she fractured her femur and lower back.
The South Australian mum has become the first female athlete of any country to win medals in three Commonwealth Games marathons.
Stenson ran the fifth fastest time in Commonwealth Games history, ending the marathon at an impressive time of 2:27.31.
The 34-year-old finished 29 seconds in front of Kenyan, Margaret Muriuki and 1 minute, 8 seconds ahead of the reigning champion Helalia Johannes from Namibia, who claimed the bronze.
Inspiring her was the memory of her idol Kerryn McCann, the 2006 Melbourne gold medallist who tragically died from cancer two years after her heroic final burst at the MCG.
“I thought about Kerryn’s closing kilometres in that battle against the Kenyan woman as she entered the MCG,” Stenson said.
“All of that history really turns into strength that we can use to try and continue that history.
“I so badly wanted to do Australia and my support team proud today.”
Stenson’s fellow Aussie teammates rounded at the top five of the race, with Eloise Wellings placing fourth and Sinead Diver in fifth.
The marathon win was dubbed a team effort by Stenson - after hitting the halfway mark and not being met with caffeinated gel she was expecting, teammate Eloise Wellings sacrificed her own gel, giving it to the eventual champion.
All three of Australia’s female marathon runners are mums and Stenson explained that becoming a mother has had a big impact on her performance.
“I really wasn’t thinking about the outcome today, I was just trying to tick off each 5k and that’s what you do as a mum, you can’t think too far ahead it’s just one moment at a time and you can’t control it you just have to respond to what is happening and I think that gives women a lot of strength as parents,” she said.
"I think being a mum makes you stronger; physically and emotionally.
“To all of the mums out there, just dream big and thanks for all your support and thanks to the mums before me who have shown this is possible.
“So, go mums!”
The gold medallist also thanked her Coach Adam Didyk for pushing her to continue preparing for Birmingham after she was diagnosed with COVID-19 less than a month out from the Games.
“My coach Adam was really calm throughout it all,” she said.
“I think his composure in this prep was really important and I have to give a big shout out to my family.”