A father and son have been competing at the highest levels of Australian sport for almost 30 years.
Sam Cook, a long-distance runner and amateur rugby league player, and his father, Dale Cook, who is an AFL coach, became two of Australia’s top-ranked marathoners at age 25, but they both suffered major injuries.
Cook’s mother died in the fall of 1998 and the pair separated after the birth of their first child, a son, Dale.
In 2002, Dale died from heart failure and Sam became the sole surviving adult on the family.
At first, Sam Cook had planned to spend his life training, running, and competing with his dad, but the family decided to try something different.
“Dale’s death was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with,” Sam Cook said.
“I didn’t know where to turn to.
I had to decide if I wanted to spend my life with my dad or with me.”
Sam Cook and his mother, Dalvin Cook.
The couple started training together, but their love of sports grew quickly and they began running with Dale and Sam in 2004.
They were also a family, having grown up together in the same small rural suburb of Brisbane.
In the early 2000s, Sam and Dale competed together at the Brisbane Marathon in Queensland.
In 2004, Dale competed in the world marathon championship.
“I’ve always loved running and Dale is still one of my best friends,” Sam said.
The family’s love for sports also made it easy for Dale and Sally to meet each other, and Dale Cook became a good friend of Sam’s.
Dale Cook, Sam’s father, runs with his wife and son in the 2008 World Marathon Championship.
“It was just about having a good time and just being able to go on with life,” Sam told ABC News.
“When you’re running, you’re not focused on your performance.
You’re not really focusing on your physical performance.
It’s about the emotions you’re feeling.”
Sam’s training with Dale was not without controversy.
He began training as a casual runner in 2000 but was not allowed to join any of the elite runners.
When Sam began training with the elite athletes, Sam was concerned about his mental health.
“My wife said that if we were to join them, they’d have to tell me I had a problem with my mind,” he said.
“We were very much in the dark about it.”
Sam says he is now running at the age of 70 and is grateful to have been able to train with his father.
“To be able to see his face, his eyes, his face and to feel the adrenaline that goes through your body, that was really a huge blessing,” he added.
“The most important thing is to keep doing what you’re doing.
If you’re training well, you’ll get better.
If not, you won’t.
So, whatever you do, you don’t lose any of that.”
For Sam, the Olympic marathon is just the beginning.
He has started his own running club and is now considering joining a team in his native New South Wales.
Sam’s family, who also have a racing family, say they are very proud of Dale Cook and the positive role he has played in the lives of so many.
“They’ve given me so much support,” Sam, a keen sportsman, said.
Sam said his father has inspired them to do better.
“What he’s done for us, and what he’s been able in his life to do for us is what I’m trying to do,” he continued.
“When I’m not able to run, I’m just going to do whatever I can.”Read more: