Australian Olympic marathon runner Martin Dent reckons the Olympic Village isn't dissimilar to raising his three young boys, Elye, Connor, and Hayden. Photo: ROHAN THOMSON
HE'S OUT training while most athletes are still partying in the early hours of the morning, but Martin Dent says years of parenting have prepared him for the Olympic Games carnage.
With the rest of the Olympic village in party mode, Dent has remained focused on the goal he's been chasing for more than a decade.
The Canberra runner will compete in the last event of the London Olympics when he lines up in the marathon today.
The prestige and tradition of closing the Games is a double-edged sword.
It's easy to get distracted as different sports finish their events and begin to unwind after a four-year preparation to reach the Olympic pinnacle.
Marathon legend Robert de Castella said the village turns into a ''zoo'' and ''circus'' towards the end of competition and for that reason he opted to avoid it as long as possible.
But with his usual race preparation involving chasing his three sons - Elye, Connor and Hayden - Dent says handling the athletes' village is easy.
''It's not too bad in here, we don't have the wild guys in our apartment,'' Dent said.
''It might be a bit noisy at night, but I'm used to having kids running up and down the hallway all day and night.
''It's funny seeing people when you're heading out for a morning run and they're just getting home … being on the last day, that's one of the prices you pay and I wouldn't change it at all.''
Dent's road to the Olympics has been a long one, as he was on the cusp of selection for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but was cut from the Athletics Australia squad at the last minute.
The 33-year-old failed in his next two attempts to achieve his dream.
He was uncertain whether competing in London was a reality when he fell 23 seconds outside the A-qualifying time.
But after having his heart broken in the past, Athletics Australia granted his wish.
For Dent, the race in London isn't about winning a medal.
His goal is to finish in the top half of the field, avoid the early ''carnage'' and try to push his way into the top 20.
And the fact his three sons, wife Kathie, his parents and siblings will be there to watch him race in the city he was born makes it the perfect stage for Dent to live his dream.
''It's a novelty for the boys just being in London, they don't quite understand yet but when we can look back and show them the photos it will be great,'' Dent said.
''Elye is pretty funny. He says, 'I hope you win dad'. And then if I don't, he asks me why I didn't.
''It's great having everyone here, Kathie has had to look after the boys and she will send me a photo of them just before the race, which will be great.''
Entering the athletes' village can be overwhelming for Olympians.
So what's the hardest thing for a 33-year-old with a full-time job in Canberra and three kids?
''The hardest part is trying not to spend too much time in the dining hall … thinking it would be easy to get something else to eat,'' Dent said. ''I think I've managed that well, I'm in the carbo-loading stage and when I'm finished I might grab some Maccas before the closing ceremony.
''Seeing some of the best distance runners in the world is pretty awesome. There are a lot of big stars here.''