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Long wait primes Marton for Rio debut

  • Long wait primes Marton for Rio debut

    Australia's Caroline Marton (L) will make her Olympic taekwondo debut in Rio.

Caroline Marton was 15 seconds away from making her Olympic taekwondo debut four years ago.

Ahead by nine points in her final London 2012 qualification bout, Marton almost believed it was real.

Then she was disqualified.

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Her younger sister Carmen Marton, who had qualified for her second Games, watched on in disbelief.

Not a word was said during the drive back to their New Caledonia hotel.

Once there, the pair sat hunched in the bathroom and sobbed.

Two peas in a pod, but only one would live out a dream cherished since childhood.

"Even at the Olympics I had that feeling in my heart that it was only half complete," Carmen told AAP.

"I couldn't fully enjoy it because I knew how hard my sister had worked for her entire career, and she deserved to be there with me."

It wasn't the first time Caroline had endured a near Olympic miss.

There were eight years of hard work and heartbreak in that 15 seconds, given she'd already been dropped from Australia's shadow team for the Beijing 2008 Games.

After that she'd retired aged 23, moved out of home and went to university - before Carmen lured her back.

On return at the 2009 national titles Caroline tore her anterior cruciate ligament, and spent the next two years recovering only to be ousted again on that excruciating day in Noumea.

"I didn't intend to continue or go for Rio," Caroline said.

"It wasn't a hard decision to retire then.

"But I had my sister there saying 'I really need your support to get me to London'.

"So that became my focus, to help Carmen prepare as best as she could."

When Carmen and her fiance, fellow London Olympian Safwan Khalil, received a one-off grant to supplement their self-funded campaigns, they used it to fly Caroline and friend Hayder Shkara to the UK as their Olympic training partners.

Four years later the quartet make up Australia's Rio team, where 32-year-old Caroline will finally debut.

To top it off, her and Carmen's younger brother Jack will accompany them as a training partner.

A dynamic fighter with killer high-scoring kicks that often psych her opponents out, Caroline is at the top of her game.

Even Carmen, Australia's first world champion in the sport, uses her as a competitive benchmark.

"I know when I can score a point on my own sister that I've achieved something," Carmen said.

"I don't think anyone can faze me as much as my sister can."

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