Olympian wins Stawell Gift
March 28, 2005 - 5:30PM
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Joshua Ross celebrates his Stawell Gift victory in 2003. Today he became only the second man to win the race off scratch.
Photo: Getty Images
Olympian Joshua Ross etched his name in the history books with a classic win from scratch in the Australia Post Stawell Gift today.
Ross, 24, clocked 12.36s to defeat fellow New South Welshman Mark Hignett (8m) by nine one-hundredths of a second with Victorian Luke Versace (9.75m) third in 12.45s.
Ross, who started the final as an even money favourite, achieved much with today’s victory.
He is the first Australian to win the coveted Gift off scratch and only the second man in the 128-year-old event to achieve this.
Madagascan Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa clocked 12s to win off scratch in 1975.
Ross, the 2003 winner, also became only the third man to win the classic twice along with Victorians Bill Howard (1966, 1967) and the late Barry Foley (1970, 1972).
“This history thing is surreal,” said Ross.
His coach Tony Fairweather agreed and said: “Josh asked me today if he won would he be one of the best ever and I told him yes.”
The head wind in today’s race proved to be an important factor in Ross’s historic victory.
“When I arrived today and felt the head wind I said to myself ‘great, the harder it blows the better for Ross,’” said Fairweather.
Indeed, the wind was the strongest of the carnival at 2.8m per second, resulting in the slowest Gift time for 69 years since Rick McCann clocked 12.75 to triumph in 1936.
Amazingly, Ross is in dire need of the $32,000 purse.
“I’m glad he won as he really needs the money as we still haven’t been able to arrange him a sponsor,” Fairweather said.
Ross, the dual national 100m champion and Athens Olympic 100m quarter-finalist, believes he can still achieve much in athletics.
“I haven’t really scratched the surface the world’s at my feet and I can do anything I want,” he said.
Ross believes he can break the 10-second barrier in the 100m and move into world class soon.
His personal best of 10.12s was set in Perth last January.
Ross, after a week’s break, will resume training for the world athletic titles at Helsinki Finland next August.