Pole vault prodigy keen to win himself back-to-back gifts
Defending LiveLighter Mullewa Gift champion Sasha Zhoya aims to go back-to-back tomorrow.
The 15-year-old was under-14 world pole vault and 110m hurdles champion and holds the national under-16 200m and under-17 110m hurdles and pole vault titles.
Last year he won the gift off a 13.5m handicap — zooming home in 12.65 seconds.
Zhoya also won the 70m sprint and the 120m Novice.
“I'll be happy if I make the gift finals — anything more would be a bonus because there’s many top sprinters participating,” Zhoya said.
Zhoya, whose mother Catherine lived in Morawa for several years, regards sprinting as a key part of his skill set.
“Talent is one thing but talent only is not enough — you need to train hard and be fully committed," Zhoya said. “Sprinting is an integral part of my training but also I am not yet specialising and want to keep all options open.”
In comparison, Adriaan Pelser is battling his body to be at his best but can’t be discounted for a third title. He was the gift’s youngest winner in 2013 at 13 and the fifth dual winner in 2015.
“My body isn’t how I want it to be for Mullewa,” Pelser said.
“I have tight and sore muscles but I’m doing what I can.
“To win Mullewa three times is definitely a motivation — though I always remind myself that to give my best is important, winning or not.”
After being injured last year in the gift’s preliminaries when in hot form, Pelser struggled.
“After that injury, I had a bad season; and during my recovery have learned about patience, following the physio’s and my coach’s advice and to listen to my body,” he said.
“I’ve had to work hard over winter to get stronger and faster.”
Other contenders include 2003 and 2006 winner Evan Jarvis and Kobi Nichols who has every chance of being the fifth female champion.
Kiara Reddingius is another but her specialty is the 550m handicap which she has won three times.
Barrie Kernaghan, now 77, will be a crowd favourite and off a 40m start, can’t be ignored as he showed in 2014 when placing runner-up.
The sprints, which are part of the 84th Mullewa Show, start at midday, with the gift final at 3.40pm.