Making her Games debut at the age of 44, Sinead Diver has stormed to the line to become just the second Australian woman to finish in the top 10 in an Olympic marathon.
Diver, who was born and raised in Ireland before moving to Australia aged 25, finished strongly on a hot and humid morning in Sapporo to claim 10th spot in two hours 31 minutes and 14 seconds.
The only better Olympic performances by an Australian female marathoner came from Lisa Ondieki, who won the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games and was seventh in 1988.
“I’m speechless, I’m so happy,” said Diver.
“I didn’t expect to come top 10.
“That was something I really wanted before the race, so I’m absolutely stoked that I fought for that spot at the end.
“I had to sprint to get past the girl in front of me.”
Peres Jepchirchir upset fellow Kenyan and current world record holder Brigid Kosgei to win the gold medal.
Until now better known as a two-time world half-marathon champion, Jepchirchir, 27, broke away from Kosgei with a couple of kilometres to run.
She clocked a winning time of 2:27:20.
Kosgei was second in 2:27:36 and Molly Seidel from the United States took the bronze in 2:27:46.
Ellie Pashley was the second Australian across the line in 23rd spot in 2:33:39 and Lisa Weightman, competing at her fourth Games, was 26th in 2:34:19.
Diver is a mother of two who only took up running seriously after emigrating to Australia and joining the Melbourne Track Club, whose other members include Stewart McSweyn and Ryan and Genevieve Gregson.
“My coach (Nic Bideau) said to me before the race ‘the first 90 minutes you’ve just got to feel relatively comfortable, the race doesn’t start until after that’,” she told the Seven Network.
“I kept reminding myself of that and I kept pulling back a bit.
“I gave it everything from about 32km.
“It’s still a long way to go and it’s really hot out there.
“I’m just so relieved that I was able to stay strong until the end.”
Late on Friday the decision was made to move the start of the race forward an hour to 0600 local time (0700 AEST) due to the brutal weather conditions in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.
Brett Robinson, Jack Rayner and Liam Adams will represent Australia in Sunday morning’s men’s marathon, the final track and field event on the Tokyo Games program.