In­ter­state suc­cess at Stawell Gift

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sports -

Run­ners from op­po­site ends of the coun­try are cel­e­brat­ing wins in Aus­tralia’s rich­est footrace af­ter wow­ing a big Cen­tral Park crowd with their per­for­mances at this year’s Stawell Gift car­ni­val.

Tas­ma­nian Ja­cob Des­pard claimed the Stawell Gift and Queens­lan­der and fel­low 21-year-old El­iz­a­beth Forsyth clinched a Stawell Women’s Gift.

Des­pard, run­ning off 4.5 me­tres, was favourite for the fi­nal, hav­ing recorded the fastest time of 12.214 sec­onds in heats on Satur­day and 12.236 in his semi-fi­nal.

He even­tu­ally won the fi­nal in a time of 12.121 from Hamish Adams, 12.212, and Gary Fene­gan, 12.294. Reign­ing cham­pion Matt Rizzo was fourth.

Forsyth, off seven me­tres, stormed home on the grass track to win the Women’s Gift in 13.685.

She hit the tape ahead of Pam Austin, 13.964, and Stephanie Jinks, 13.971.

Forsyth, who had a dra­matic tum­ble af­ter cross­ing the line in the fi­nal, said af­ter the race that she could not be­lieve she had won.

“I re­ally didn’t think it would hap­pen. I am be­yond happy to be the Stawell Gift win­ner, it is the great­est achieve­ment of my ath­let­ics ca­reer so far and I imag­ine it may just be for the rest of my life,” she said.

The Grif­fith Uni­ver­sity sports sci­ence stu­dent was run­ning in her sec­ond Stawell car­ni­val.

Des­pard has been train­ing un­der coach Scott Rowsell since mov­ing to Mel­bourne less than six months ago.

“I just moved out of home and that’s a big ex­pense, I’ll save some but I love cars, so I might put a bit of prize money into my car,” he said.

“This is the sixth time I’ve been to Stawell. I was orig­i­nally in the team when An­drew Robin­son won and that fired me up, then in 2015 I made the semis but lost to Mur­ray Good­win who went on to win. This is a fan­tas­tic next step in my ath­let­ics ca­reer.”

De­fend­ing ti­tle

Des­pard said he planned to re­turn to de­fend his ti­tle next year and would con­tinue to re­turn.

“Short term I will fly to the Bun­bury Gift in Western Aus­tralia next month with some of the Com­mon­wealth Games ath­letes com­ing so that will be com­pet­i­tive. Then for the next 12 months I will be re­ally push­ing for the Aus­tralian team,” he said.

Both run­ners pock­eted $40,000 for their re­spec­tive wins.

Car­ni­val rac­ing was far from con­fined to the gift events.

Run­ners, rang­ing from na­tional pro­fes­sion­als to Lit­tle Ath­let­ics young­sters, com­peted in a va­ri­ety of events in sprint, mid­dle and long dis­tance events across three days of com­pe­ti­tion.

De­tailed re­sults are avail­able on­line at www. stawell­­sults-2018/

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