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Mekonnen and Mannix-Power fastest in Stawell Gift heats

Endale Mekonnen during Day 1 of the 2024 Powercor Stawell Gift. Photo by Luke Hemer/Stawell Gift.

The Stawell Gift heats saw some electric performances today, with Endale Mekonnen and Chloe Mannix-Power emerging as favorites for the Easter Monday finals.

All photos by Luke Hemer, courtesy of Stawell Gift

Mekonnen, from Hoppers Crossing, Victoria, dominated his heat, clocking the fastest time of the day at 12.07 seconds. This strong showing comes after a near miss last year where he finished second in the semi-finals.

“It’s just mindset, that’s it.  I know my mindset is strong and I have to be confident in myself,”  Mekonnen said.

“I knew I was one of the favourites, so I had to make a statement.  I came here to win.  I feel way better than I did last year, much stronger, so yeah, I’m happy with the run,” he said. Mekonnen was run out at the semi-final stage in 2023.

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Other notable performances include Jack Lacey (12.15s), Maki Loukeris (12.20s), and Jake Ireland (12.20s) who aims to surpass his father (Todd) third-place finish on the Stawell Gift track.

Sydney’s Tom Pellow clocked 12.26s in his heat and had been backed from long odds into favouritism with bookmakers. His Stawell run was a significant improvement on his pre-meet form, causing him to be disqualified from the event.

Chloe Mannix-Power

In the Women’s Gift, Chloe Mannix-Power (13.34s) secured the top qualifying spot. Mannix-Power shared a heartwarming story about how her coach, Brett Robinson, convinced her to continue running two years ago.

“Robbo told me we had some goals to achieve together so I’m excited. I expected to be strong today, Robbo and I have put a lot of work into the preparation.” Mannix-Power said.

“I’d love to take home the cheque. We’ll just turn up on Monday and run the best race and see what the outcome is.”

Second fastest in the heats was talented junior 400m runner Jemma Pollard, who ran 13.49s off a mark of 8.5m. The 18-year-old has qualified for this year’s World Under 20 Championships and has a personal best of 52.97s over the one lap distance.

While some new contenders emerged, there were also disappointments. Defending champions Ryan Tarrant and Bella Pasquali did not progress to the semi-finals.

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The semi-finals and final of the Stawell Gift take place on Easter Monday.

Men’s Gift Heats

Fastest Times

  • 1. Endale Mekonnen (7m) – 12.07
  • 2. Jack Lacey (9.5m) – 12.16
  • 3. Maki Loukeris (7.75m) – 12.21
  • 4. Jake Ireland (5.5m) – 12.21
  • 5. Brad Hunt (6.75m) – 12.25

Notable Others

  • Cooper Sherman (0.5m) – 12.59 – won heat
  • Harrison Kerr (3m) – 12.60 – won heat
  • Ryan Tarrant (scratch) – 12.79 – 5th in heat (did not qualify for semi)

Women’s Gift Heats

Fastest Times

  • 1. Chloe Mannix-Power (4.25m) – 13.35
  • 2. Jemma Pollard (8.75m) – 13.49
  • 3. Chloe Kinnersly (9.75m) – 13.50
  • 4. Jennifer King (11m) – 13.56
  • 5. Angelina Windshuttle (9.25m) – 13.59

Notable Others

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  • Mia Gross (1m) – DNS
  • Bella Pasquali (2.5m) – 14.45 – 2nd in heat (did not qualify to semi)

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