SHE began her Olympic dream as a student at the Grafton Public School athletics carnival, but Zoe Buckman exceeded even her wildest hopes by qualifying for the 1500m semi-finals at the London Games on Monday.
Born in Grafton, Buckman, 23, ran close to her personal best time to scrape into the next round of the 1500m athletics event after a gutsy heat run.
As the front-runners who set the frantic early tempo fell back through the field, Buckman made a sustained sprint over the final 300 metres to narrowly miss out on automatic qualification by finishing in the top six of her heat.
By finishing eighth, she had a nervous wait to see if her time of 4:07.83 would be fast enough to qualify in the remaining six places for the semi-final.
It was, and Buckman's Olympic dream remains alive.
"I'm so excited for Olympic semi-final," Buckman wrote on her Facebook wall.
"Thanks for all your support. It is electricity!!"
What is perhaps most remarkable about Buckman's qualification for the next round is that the Olympics is her first senior international championship.
"I've never had to experience running in these tactical races where everyone is at the same level.
"You have to think on your feet," she said after the race in her television interview.
"I was just really encouraged by the crowd and the Olympic atmosphere.
"I'm really proud of how I ran today. I was wide but I didn't panic.
"I just had to settle in there. My coach said before the race, just be patient, something will open up and I came home strong, so that was where it counted."
Buckman's semi-final will be run at 4:56am tomorrow AEST.
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