ON THE long road to competing at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, marathon runner Jess Trengove has needed to look no further than her younger brother for inspiration.
Back from the depths of despair, AFL player Jack Trengove has recently completed a marathon of his own – recovery from chronic foot stress fractures that lasted two years.
The former Demons captain hadn’t played a game at senior level since round two, 2014, before finally returning to the field in round 11 this season.
“I took a huge amount of inspiration from Jack and his approach to his injury,” Jess Trengove told Australian Regional Media.
“He never for a moment doubted that he’d be back playing football.
“He said that was what he wanted to do and he took every step to get there.
“He was patient, motivated and held a lot of self-belief, which is so important.
“Seeing him come back from his foot injury had given me the confidence and belief that I can not only come back from the injury but do well too.”
Trengove recently suffered from bone stress in her left foot, experiencing pain similar to what she felt in her right foot before shrugging it off to win bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
But the 28-year-old refuses to be slowed down, declaring she is aiming for a personal best in the women’s marathon in Rio on August 14.
Trengove, from the small town of Naracoorte in rural South Australia, is fresh from some altitude training in Arizona in the US, and said she was feeling good with her second Olympics around the corner.
“The altitude training in May involved a lot of cross-training in the gym and a gradual introduction back to running,” she said.
“Now I’m running a fair bit more and looking forward to the next two and a bit months leading up to race day.”
Trengove’s first Olympic experience was at London 2012 when she finished a respectable 39th in just her second-ever competitive marathon, crossing the line in a then personal-best time of 2hr 31min 17sec.
At the Melbourne Marathon last October, Trengove smashed the Rio qualifying time when she clocked 2:27.45.
She ran a two-and-a-half-minute personal-best and became the sixth-fastest Australian female marathon runner ever, leading her to say “the sky is the limit” for Rio.
Trengove has always had a highly supportive family, going back to when she grew up in country South Australia.
“I loved the outdoors and the sense of wanting to help out others,” she said.
“It meant that I felt really supported throughout my entire sporting career and I felt like I had the whole community behind me.
“My sister used to row for the South Australia Sports Institute and for Jack it was cricket in the summer and footy in the winter.
“When he got drafted (at pick No.2 for Melbourne in the 2009 AFL Draft) it was a real sign of someone who had worked hard towards his goal and achieved it.
“So I wanted to see how far I could take my running.”
Inspired by Australia’s success in the pool at Sydney 2000, Trengove originally wanted to be a gold medal-winning swimmer like her idol Susie O’Neill.
“But I realised after a few mornings of getting up early I wasn’t made for the water,” she said.
“(Former Australian Olympian) Benita Willis quickly became my running idol and I dreamed of running like her. It was very special to line up at the London Olympics on a team with Benita.”
Now that Trengove is a role model for so many kids, she takes that very seriously.
When she’s not running, Trengove works as an ambassador in schools and corporate settings.
There’s never a dull moment as she is also a qualified physiotherapist and a co-founder for Rundies, which makes specialist running underwear.
“I’d get pretty agitated if I didn’t have things going on outside of running,” she said.
“In an Olympic year it’s a great opportunity to get to schools and get the kids excited about sport and being active, and show them that if they dream big and work hard they too could represent their country.
“I remember having people like (former Opals basketball star) Rachael Sporn come to Naracoorte and I loved that and got photos and autographs.
“I always remember those times and it reminds me of the importance of taking the time to do those things.
“The physio work is another opportunity to help people and make a difference.
“It also teaches me so much about how the body works, which helps me as an athlete.
“As for the running undies, that’s something my brother, my boyfriend and I have had a lot of fun with, and we’ve learnt a lot about business in the process.”
You can also rest assured the ever-smiling Trengove will have a lot of fun in Rio, regardless of the result.
“You’ve got to enjoy the process of getting to the Olympics because they’re over pretty quickly, and there’s a lot of hard work and training,” she said.
“What’s exciting is the conditions in Rio could be quite challenging or hot and humid – I really love those conditions.
“If I keep doing the training and preparation, I’ll give myself every chance of coming away with a result I’m happy with and hopefully a personal best.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.