Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 27th February 2018
Stawell, VIC, Feb 27 2018: The Stawell Gift Women’s defending champion Liv Ryan had no hesitations when asked if she will return to the historic Easter event this year. Steeped in tradition, and for the past four years offering equal prize money for the men’s and women’s finals, this is the race all professional runners want to win.
The Australia Post Women’s Gift final will be held on Easter Monday, April 2 at the famous Central Park in Stawell.
“It was incredible, the best day of my life,” enthused Liv Ryan speaking about her win last year. “This race has so much history, it’s very prestigious and everyone wants to win it and you carry that win for the rest of your life.
“I think that it is important that female athletes are being recognised equally as we put in the same amount of hard work and training so it seems only fair that we compete for equal prize money.
“The Australia Post Women’s Gift has always been a prestigious Gift but with the increase in prize money in recent years it has made it the most prestigious in Australia and by far the one to win. It is amazing what Australia Post and the Stawell Gift are doing for gender equality.”
Liv has set 2018 has her development year. “I want to develop as an athlete, improve on my times and see where that takes me. It will be a lot harder with the handicap at Stawell but I’ll be happy as long as I produce some good times and hopefully a PB.”
Fresh from her win at the Ballarat Gift this month, local athletics star Kate Jones has also confirmed she will be running at Stawell at Easter.
Two time Australia Post Women’s Gift finalist (3rd 2014, 5th 2016) Kate also won the Ararat Gift this season so is well placed to reach this year’s $40,000 Australia Post Women’s Gift final. Like Liv, Kate agrees that historically the Stawell Gift is “the be all and end all, the best thing you can win as a pro runner.
“To win at Stawell would be so special to me. My late grandpa used to watch the Stawell Gift before I was born, Pa used to love it as much as I do.
“I just need to stick to my race plan and hope that I keep it together,” said Kate.
Tara Domaschenz, a previous 400m winner and 120m Gift runner-up who will be back for her 12th Australia Post Women’s Gift this year, agrees equal prize money shows gender equality.
“Pro racing is about handicapping the race so everyone has an equal chance at winning. If everyone has an equal chance at winning then we should all have an equal chance at the same prize money no matter what gender. Both men and women train for just as long and work just as hard to get their body in optimal shape to win a race, the rewards should be the same.”
A close second to Kate Jones in the Ballarat Gift, Tara agrees it makes the race more exciting and helps to motivate women to race in the women’s races rather than trying to enter the men’s Open.
“When the Stawell Athletic Club increased the prize money the increase in numbers spoke for itself. It increased the number of women participating in the sport, it motivated the elite women athletes to enter and got more people (elite or just out there to have a go) involved in the sport. It also increased the number of people attending the event,” said Tara.
“As a 15- year-old girl I remember there being such a hype about the Stawell Gift. I just loved to race so my parents entered me into anything and everything. Stawell was one of those races and I was lucky enough to come 2nd in the Women’s Gift in 2007. I don’t think I realised at the time how big of a deal Stawell was. As the years have gone by, I keep going back because the atmosphere at Central Park is so exciting to race at in front of such a big crowd.”
Tom Burbidge, President of the Victorian Athletic League and previous Stawell Gift winner, said:
“The Stawell Gift has certainly shone a great deal of light across the sport when it comes to equal prize money and it’s had a heavy influence on other meetings in doing so. Five years ago there may have only been one or two meetings with equal prize money for Women’s and now about one-third of all Victorian Athletic League meetings have equality. In discussions with new and existing clubs, I’m expecting this number to continually improve each season.”
This year Australia Post celebrates 24 years of supporting the Stawell Gift, with the organisation providing equal prize money for the Australia Post Women’s Gift for the past four years.
Three days of action-packed racing, activities and entertainment make up the 2018 Stawell Gift Carnival. The off-track action is headlined by Fashions on the Field which takes centre stage on Easter Saturday (March 31, 2018) with $2500 in prize money and gifts up for grabs. Easter Sunday is Cadbury® Family Day at Stawell with The Cadbury® Easter Egg Hunt headlining a fantastic schedule of child-friendly activities including an athletics clinic, an animal nursery and plenty of other organised fun for the kids.
Tickets can be purchased online in advance of the Stawell Gift here. Adult concession tickets start from just $12, while Child tickets are free on Cadbury® Family Day.
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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