MELBOURNE, April 12 AAP - Barbados sprinter JasonHunte won the 127th Stawell Gift in the small central Victorian towntoday.
Hunte upset the odds-on favourite Chris Tuohy ofMelbourne with a withering finish to grab victory in thefastest time of the weekend of 12.07 seconds.
Hunte, off the 4.25 metre handicap, will be hopingthat this victory will add to his reputation at home ashe chases Olympic selection in the 400 metres later thisyear.
Four-time finalist American Greg Saddler, off onemetre, placed third in a time of 12.11 seconds.
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STAWELL, Vic, April 9 AAP - Veteran American Ken Brokenburr believes he can defy history and winAustralia’s richest professional sprint, the StawellGift.
Brokenburr, 35, will start off scratch and concede upto 10m starts in the 127th edition of the historic 120mhandicap race this weekend.
I am an optimist and anything is possible,''Brokenburr said. The odds are firmly stacked against Brokenburr as onlyone scratch man, Jean Louis Ravelomanantsoa ofMadagascar in 1975, has managed this feat. But Brokenburr is used to overcoming adversity. We did it hard growing up in Florida with mumworking two jobs to feed myself, two brothers and asister,’’ Brokenburr said.
``So I am just so grateful to be here today.’’
Brokenburr was in the six-man American 4x100m relaysquad that brilliantly won gold in the 2000 SydneyOlympics.
He raced in the heats and semi-final and then watchedas Jon Drummond, Bernard Williams, Brian Lewis andMaurice Greene raced to victory.
But their excessive victory celebrations soured thewin for Brokenburr.
It was uncalled for and embarrassed the team and theUSA. I felt as the oldest guy on the team I had to tellthem this and later they regretted it as they didn'trealise the harm they caused,'' he said. Brokenburr encounters strong opposition this weekendfrom defending champion Joshua Ross and fellow AmericanGreg Saddler. Ross, 23 of Newcastle, confirmed his improvement bywinning the national 100m title last month and, likeBrokenburr and Saddler, is aiming for Athens Olympicselection. After easily winning last year's Stawell Gift by threemetres, Ross has been pulled back six metres to race offthe tough 1m handicap. Despite this penalty Ross is optimistic. I’ve improved so much since last year, I’m a lotfitter and stronger and I’m confident I can be thereagain,’’ Ross said.
Saddler, after placing twice previously, is returningfor his sixth attempt at the coveted foot race.
Dual Australian Olympian Lauren Hewitt will also raceagainst the men off the out-mark of 10 metres and ishoping to be the first woman to win a heat in the Gift.
Melbourne sprinter Matthew Callard is the $4.00favourite after placing a narrow second in the recentBendigo Gift.
But bookmakers are keeping Ross ($10.00), Saddler($12.00) and Brokenburr ($15.00) safe in the betting.
Heats of the $54,000 sprint will be held on Saturdaywith the semi-finals and final on Easter Monday.
By Dick Dowling
MELBOURNE, April 10 AAP - On the measure of confidence alone Melbourne sprinter Chris Tuohy will easily win the historic Stawell Gift on Monday.
Today the Brunswick sprinter brilliantly won his heatof the 127-year-old handicap in the handy time of 12.13seconds.
Beaten into fifth place in last year’s final won by Joshua Ross, Tuohy believes this year’s Gift is his for the taking.
I think Joshua Ross is clearly the best sprinter in Australia at the moment but I'll have his measure this weekend,'' Tuohy said. Bookmakers agree with the outspoken Tuohy installing him a 5-1 on favourite to win the $54,000 professional sprint race. Tuohy, 28, off 7.5 metres, said he spent six weeks reevaluating his athletics career after last year's Stawell final. I then decided to go for it and spent six months atthe University of Utah under coach Michael Labou.’’
He halved my body fat and upped my muscle mass,''Tuohy said. When told his time today Tuohy said I was hoping for11 something but 12.13 seconds will do’’.
Collingwood sprinter Jarrod Meagher (7.25m) clockedthe fastest time of the 27 heats and six repecharges of12.12 seconds.
Meagher, a finalist here in 2001 and 2002 was shockedat his fast time.
I didn't think it was that quick,'' a jubilantMeagher said. Meagher, 26, is rated a 5-1 chance to clinch thisrace. Despite only running the 11th quickest time today of12.39 seconds bookmakers have installed American GregSaddler (1m) as the 4-1 second favourite. Saddler was smooth and after placing second twice herepreviously hopes that this year will be his. Defending champion Ross of Newcastle was disappointedwith his time of 12.40 seconds. That didn’t feel that good - the first run is alwaysthe hardest and I’m glad it’s out of the way,’’ Ross,off 1m, said.
The biggest disappointment of the day was the poorperformance of Sydney 2000 Olympic sprint relay goldmedallist Ken Brokenburr of the USA.
Racing off the difficult scratch mark Brokenburrplaced second in his heat and then failed dismallyfinishing sixth and last in the repecharge.
Australian Olympian Lauren Hewitt off the limit markof 10 metres also failed to impress placing last in herheat.
By Dick Dowling
STAWELL, Vic, April 11 AAP - American sprinter GregSaddler hopes changes he’s made will see him finally winthe historic Stawell Gift tomorrow.
Saddler is making his sixth assault on the127-year-old 120m handicap footrace title after twiceplacing second.
The smooth running American was the most impressiveheat winner on Saturday, clocking an easy 12.39s off his1m handicap.
I really want to win this year and I've made bigchanges to help that,'' said Saddler. The key change for the 29-year-old California wasgoing to new coach Darrell Smith. Darrell has changed my running style as I wassitting back too far and now I’m up on my toes and Ihope that works comes Monday,’’ Saddler said.
Bookmakers rate the American joint 4-1 secondfavourite with the fastest heat winner Jarrod Meagher(7.25m) of Collingwood who clocked 12.12s.
The favourite at even money is Chris Tuohey (7.5m) ofBrunswick who clocked 12.13s and placed fifth, justbehind Saddler, in last year’s final.
Like Saddler, Tuohey has also made changes to assistin his quest for the $32,000 winner’s prize.
Tuohey is confident that a six month training stint atUtah’s altitude, loss of body fat and increase in musclemass will give him the essentials for victory.
While disappointed with the way he felt in his heat,which he won in 12.40s, defending champion Joshua Rossof Newcastle has the opportunity to create history intomorrow’s final.
Off the one metre handicap Olympic hopeful Ross, 23,can becomne the shortest handicapped Australian winnerand only the second man to win the event consecutively.
Ross said that chance to make history was ``in theback of my mind’’.
Later this month Ross will chase Athens Olympicselection in a series of meetings in Japan.
The recent winner of the national 100m title, Rossneeds to slash 600ths of a second off his personal besttime of 12.27s to secure Olympic selection.
But for now Ross’ sights are firmly aimed at StawellGift glory.