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Shelley 16th in Olympic marathon
By John Salvado
03:50 AEST Mon Aug 13 2012
Michael Shelley. (AAP)
Michael Shelley. (AAP)

Michael Shelley slots in behind two of the alltime greats of Australian distance running after a creditable Olympic debut in London.

Only Robert de Castella - twice - and Steve Moneghetti have finished an Olympic marathon faster than the Queenslander's effort of two hours 14 minutes and 10 seconds on Sunday.

It left him in 16th place overall behind winner Stephen Kiprotich, who upset the favoured Kenyan trio to win Uganda's first Olympic title in four decades in a time of 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 (Dick Telford) 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 on a warm sunny London day 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."

De Castella was fifth in 1984 in 2:11:09 and eighth in 1988 in 2:13:07, while Moneghetti was fifth in the Seoul race in 2:11:49, making them the only Australians to run an Olympic marathon faster than Shelley on Sunday.

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."

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