By Bradley Green
November 30th, 2011
A DISTANCE runner with Olympic dreams could potentially be the next diamond discovered by Geelong recruiting guru Stephen Wells.
The Cats yesterday added Mark Blicavs, who has aspirations to run for Australia at next year's London Olympic Games, to their rookie list under the same AFL rule that delivered them ex-NBL and American college basketballer Ryan Bathie last year.
Blicavs, whose parents Andy and Karen (nee Ogden) both represented Australia in basketball at the Olympics, has not played football since he was 14.
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But Wells said the former Sunbury junior did enough at a series of tests and trials run by the Cats' recruiting team and football department over the past year to earn this opportunity.
Wells said Blicavs will combine his athletics and training with the Cats over the summer as he builds up to next year's Olympic selection trials in March.
He's hoping for a berth in the steeplechase.
But, if he fails to earn a spot on the Australian team, he will join the reigning premier full time and look to play with its VFL side.
"Mark has got his ambitions with his athletics at the moment and we're fully supportive of that," Wells said.
"But once he's gone as far as he can with all of that he will become a Geelong footballer.
"We've trialled and tested a number of non-football types over the course of the last 12 months and we really liked his athletic ability.
"He has played some football as a junior and that's why we've given him a chance. He's concentrated on his athletics but when we did our trials we were pleased with the way he handled himself.
"He'll do all he can ... with his athletics and, when he can fit things in, he'll have an involvement at the football club as well."
Wells also stressed that the 198cm 20-year-old would not deny Geelong a selection in next month's rookie draft.
Blicavs has been signed under a rule that allows AFL clubs to list players who haven't played football in the past three years.
"He's effectively the 48th player on our list," Wells said.
"He's got a long way to go but he's an extra on our rookie list so we think it's worth a punt."
Blicavs' sister Sara is currently on a basketball scholarship to the AIS and playing with its side in the WNBL competition.
His father captained the St Kilda Saints in the NBL after representing the Boomers at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
With Geelong retaining Bathie, Jonathan Simpkin, Josh Walker, George Burbury and Jesse Stringer on its rookie list, the Cats have two picks in the rookie draft on December 13.