Australian junior 200m runner-up, Ryan Tarrant, was fastest in the heats of the 141st running of the Stawell Gift.
Photos by Luke Hemer courtesy of Stawell Gift. Cover photo: Ryan Tarrant
Olivia Hastings and 2015 Gift winner Grace O’Dwyer were equal fastest in the women’s Gift.
Tarrant clocked 12.29 seconds off his mark of 3.75m, with 2016 winner Isaac Dunmall, Nicholas Antonino, Leonard King, Tom Templeton and Mitchell O’Neill all running 12.40 seconds or faster in the heats.
Tarrant, who was a member of the Australian junior 4x100m relay team at last year’s World Junior Championships and is the current Victorian Open 200m champion, set personal bests last weekend at the Australian U20 Championships, with runs of 10.48 seconds in the 100m and 20.95 seconds in the 200m.
Former winners Stawell Gift winners Jacob Despard (12.56s; 1m), Dhruv Rodrigues Chico (12.61s; 0.75m) and defending champion Harrison Kerr (12.83s; 2.5m) all won their heats. Kerr won last year’s Gift in a once in a generation
beating of the handicapper performance of 11.85 seconds when running off 9.25m. Matt Rizzo, the 2017 winner, placed second in his heat in 12.41s off 3.75m.
Australian 200m champion Jake Doran was second in heat 6 from his 0.5m in a time of 12.52 seconds. He started as the backmarker for the Gift, with New Zealand’s Eddie Nketia, who was to run off scratch, instead scratching.
Top 10 Heat Times – Men
Hastings (7.25m) and O’Dwyer (7m) both clocked 13.55s in winning their heats in the women’s Gift. O’Dwyer, who was 15 years of age when she won eight years ago, last raced on 18 February when she won the Keilor Gift off 6.5m, and was a finalist at each of Rye, Frankston, Beachside and Ballarat in the consecutive weekend’s prior off marks of 5 metres. From a strong pro-running family, the pattern of form followed by six weeks of no racing suggests she is well positioned for a second Stawell win.
She’ll need to stay ahead of Hastings, who was a heat winner last year, and is a training partner of 2021 Gift winner Hayley Orman under coach Dan Semmler,.
“It’s been great training with Hayley and she has helped me a lot, I just missed out in the semi-finals last year so hopefully I’ll be able to go one better this year,” said Hastings.
Australian 100m silver medallist Bree Masters was three-tenths-of-a-second off O’Dwyer and Hasting’s times, running off scratch, as was Australian U20 400m hurdles champion, Alesha Bennetts, off 5.5m.
Top 10 Heat Times – Women
All eyes are now focused on the semi-finals and finals on Easter Monday, along with a strong field of Australia’s top female middle distance runners over 1000m. The Stawell Gift is broadcast live on Seven from 11:30am AEST Monday.