Benita Willis poses with legendary Olympic athlete Haile Gebrselassie.
Benita Willis poses with legendary Olympic athlete Haile Gebrselassie. Stu Forsterall

Benita: 'I had to finish'

FOUR-time Olympic athlete and Mackay marathon runner Benita Willis said quitting the London marathon was never an option, despite being in terrible pain for most of the race's 42km.

Willis said she was hampered for the majority of the race by a hip tendon injury and from the start of the gruelling run she knew she was in for a tough day.

"I felt most unlike myself right from the start of the marathon," she said.

"I was feeling in pain from the injury I had and as the race progressed other parts of my body begun to stiffen up, probably as a result of me overcompensating my running style because of hip pain.

"I was determined to finish though, as the Olympics isn't just all about being in your best possible shape, doing PBs and winning medals.

"The Olympics is also about doing your best on the day, competing with fairness and competing with pride for your country."

Willis said despite her injury she wanted to enjoy her final Olympic marathon.

"No matter how sore I was or how much pain I felt, I wanted to finish the race," she said.

"In life we all come up against obstacles, with odds stacked against us, but I think the true Aussie spirit in all of us helps us overcome any barrier.

"When you overcome hurdles you feel a real sense of achievement, particularly when you come out the other side having won your own battle.

"I wanted to show people that I was not going to give in despite all these odds stacked against me.

"I wanted to keep as positive as I could."

Willis said despite all of the pain she felt her race finished in comical fashion.

"When the race did finish, I was taken back to the Olympic village in a wheelchair," she said.

"Everyone was looking at me, but I was fine. I was just so happy to have completed the race.

"I've spent the past few days relaxing in the village and hanging out with friends from around the world who I have not seen in years."

It was unclear yesterday if Willis would continue running in coming months or whether she would take a break to recover from her hip injury.

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