Olympic and Paralympic athletes are farewelled at the ACT Legislative Assembly by ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr yesterday ... From left: Lauren Boden, Martin Dent and Melissa Breen. Photo: Graham Tidy
Martin Dent spent more than a decade waiting for his Olympic Games shot and after his years in the dark he is determined to savour every experience on his journey to London.
A month after his selection in the team, Dent ticked another box yesterday when he was one of 11 Olympic and Paralympic athletes farewelled by the ACT government and Athletics ACT.
It's the start of a hectic eight weeks for marathon runner Dent, who will compete in the Launceston 10-kilometre race in Tasmania tomorrow.
He will continue to train in the capital until mid-July before flying to London, where he will race on the last day of the Games.
Until then, the 33-year-old will take in the build-up to the dream which has eluded him for the past 12 years.
Twice since 2000 Dent has been cruelly left out of the Australian Olympic team when he was overlooked by selectors.
All the pain turned to excitement when he was called into the squad last month.
But he says it won't feel real until he lands in London.
''There are still a lot of things that have to happen before I make reality out of it,'' Dent said.
''I haven't got a uniform yet, I don't have flight details or anything, so I don't even know when I'm going.
''There's still a lot of hard training to do and I'm still eight weeks away from my event, even though the Games start [in 41 days].''
The Australian Olympic athletics team was finalised earlier this week.
They will compete in the 100m sprint, the hurdles, the marathon and the walking events.
The Paralympic team boasts world record holders and champions who will aim for gold when they get their chance to compete.
Some of the Canberra contingent will leave next week to start a training block in Europe before finalising their preparations to compete in London.
For a sprinter like Melissa Breen, her lifetime of hard work will come down to 11 seconds when she races in the 100m event.
But Dent will be pushing his body to the limit in the 42km marathon.
Instead of completing his journey abroad, Dent will remain at home with wife Kathie and their three sons.
''We've all got expectations and I guess there's some pressure because I can't really treat this like a learning experience,'' Dent said.
''Everyone needs to take their chances when they can. I think we go into the athletes' village halfway through the Games, but I'm still going to go to the opening ceremony.
''The marathon is on the last day, but it's one of the most prestigious [events] and I love it, that's the price I'm willing to pay to compete.''