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Kerr, Bull win Stawell Gift

Photos by Luke Hemer, courtesy of Stawell Gift

Harrison Kerr produced a once-in-a-generation performance to emphatically win the 2022 Powercor Stawell Gift on Easter Monday.

Kerr won by 0.16 seconds from Hamish Lindstrom (7.75m) in a time of 11.85s from his mark of 9.25m. The run was the fastest winning time since 1995.

Jesse McKenna (6.25m) was third in 12.17 seconds, with scratch marker Eddie Nketia fourth in 12.27s.

Kerr’s performance on the wet Stawell track was almost 4% faster on a ‘rate per metre’ measure than he ran at last year’s Gift or any time since then (except for his Stawell heat and semi this year). He also had a mark one metre more generous this year (9.25m this year compared to 8.25m last year). Part of that difference was a 0.5m ‘lift’ in his handicap under a Victorian Athletic League policy of rewarding athletes who are already performing better than their peers, when they win a lead-in event. In Kerr’s case, this was the Maribrynong Gift last month, which he won by 0.14 seconds.

“He just kept getting faster and faster at training,” said Kerr’s coach, Nick Fielder, who also coached last year’s winner, Ed Ware.

“He surpassed what I expected him to do, he ran out of his skin and I wasn’t expecting that. I can’t fault a thing he did and he is an absolute joy to coach.”

The women’s Gift was a more befitting display of the concept that pro running should produce a close contest. In a blanket finish where the entire field was separated by just a tenth-of-a-second Cara Bull (6m) took line honours in 13.75 seconds

“I’m absolutely stoked and lost for words,” said Bull.

“It was such a close race, the other competitors in the final were all truly amazing.”

Clare de Salis (8m) was a close second in 13.79s just ahead of Mia Gross (0.75m) on her 21st birthday, who finished one-hundredth-of-second further behind.

In other events Jacob Despard (0.5m, 12.46s) took out the backmarkers 120m, Brady Threlfall (130m, 4:02.15) the Herb Hedemann 1600m and Georgia Griffith won the women’s 1000m against a class field including Linden Hall, Catriona Bisset and Abbey Caldwell.

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