Multi-talented Genevieve Gregson has made a compelling case for a spot in the marathon at the Paris Olympics with a flying top-10 finish in Valencia.
Running just her second marathon, Gregson was the first Australian and ninth overall in two hours 23 minutes eight seconds, lifting her to third spot on the national alltime list.
Compatriots Izzi Batt -Doyle, four-time Olympian Lisa Weightman and Eloise Wellings also dipped under the Olympics qualifying standard of 2:26:50 in Spain on Sunday, while Sinead Diver's national record of 2:21:34 set last year in Valencia came in the qualifying period.
Commonwealth champion Jess Stenson and Ellie Pashley could also make late bids for Olympic selection before the cut-off mark in May.
Australia's unprecedented strength in depth for the women's marathon will provide the selectors with plenty to ponder as they can only choose a maximum of three athletes in any event for the Paris Games.
But Gregson's impressive display in Spain will carry plenty of weight when the squad is picked, especially as she beat three of the other leading contenders.
"I shocked myself," said the 34-year-old Gregson.
"I felt so good over the last 5Ks and I made up lots of time.
"At one point I thought I would be under 2:23 but in the end I just missed it.
"I have never worked so hard as I have over the last two years.
"To see my name on that team sheet next year (if selected) is going to mean so much."
Gregson has contested the 3000m steeplechase at the past three Olympics and also reached the 5000m final at the 2016 Rio Games,
Her Tokyo campaign ended in heartbreak when she ruptured her Achilles tendon on the final water jump of the steeplechase final.
After giving birth to son Archer last year, Gregson stepped up to the marathon and made her debut over the classic 42.195km distance on the Gold Coast in July.
Worknesh Degefa led an Ethiopian women's podium sweep in Valencia, while compatriot Sisay Lemma won the men's race in 2:01:48, moving him to fourth spot on the alltime list.
Earlier in the day, Brett Robinson went out hard in the Fukuoka marathon as he looked to better his own Australian record set in the same race last year.
The 32-year-old was unable to keep up the hot pace on the way home. eventually crossing the line in seventh place in 2:08:29.
It was still Robinson's second-quickest marathon, behind only the Australian mark of 2:07:31 he set in the same Japanese race back in 2022.
Australian Associated Press