2009 – Stubbs storms home in Shirvo’s shoes

Date: 30th January 2009

Eighteen-year-old beach sprinter Aaron Stubbs is $40,000 richer after taking out the 128th edition of the Australia Post Stawell Gift.

Wearing shoes sent to him back in 2003 by five-time Australian 100m champion Matt Shirvington, Stubbs blitzed the field from the gun and quickly gathered in the front markers. The pre-race favourite was never challenged, winning by nearly two metres in 11.87 with an assisting wind of 1.2m/s.

“This is massive. I am so happy,” said the elated osteopathy student from Lismore.

After the completion of the heats on Saturday this was meant to be one of the closest Stawell Gifts in recent memory, but Stubbs changed all that in the semi-finals where he cracked the magical 12-second barrier with an air-punching 11.90 seconds ensuring he would start the final as the $1.55 firm favourite with the bookmakers.

After winning the open and under 19 Australian beach sprint double earlier this year in Perth, Stubbs was confident that he would hold up through the three rounds in Stawell.

“At the surf nationals I didn’t actually get the best start but I really finished well and ran past everyone which gave me confidence for the 120m.”

Running the fastest time seen at Central Park since 1995, Stubbs drew inspiration from a past winner and from one of Australia’s fastest ever sprinters.

“It means so much. When I was watching Mott (referring to 2006 winner Adrian Mott) a few years ago I thought that’s what I would love to happen to me one day and it has.”

An autograph seeking encounter as a 10-year-old with Australia’s second fastest sprinter ever Matt Shirvington earned him a signature and a pair of the Sydney Olympian’s spikes.

Shirvington, who sent Stubbs the spikes after he ran his fastest ever time on Australian soil, a 10.09 dash at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast, was pleased to have inspired the winner.

“You don’t think about what might happen when you meet young kids at clinics or sign autographs but it’s fantastic to know that I could inspire someone to win,” said Shirvington.

“But I’m sure it’s not just the shoes, he has obviously done a lot of work and to run that time is sensational.”

Stubbs thanked his family and his coach Ryan Hoffman for their support.

“I’d like to thank my parents Paul and Linda, my coach Ryan and my brother. There’s so many people.”

Hoffman, a perennial Stawell Gift semi-finalist, knew his charge would handle the pressure well.

“I’ve been working with Aaron for 3 years and he’s a smart boy,” said Hoffman.

“I didn’t have to talk to him between the semi and the final. He knew what he was doing.”

His father Paul who is himself a handy sprinter and ran in the heats of the Gift where he finished 2nd, was quietly confident that his son would win.

“I knew after the Australian beach titles how well he would go. He’s just so strong.”

Stubbs has no grand plans for the $40,000 winner’s cheque.

“I’m living away from home at the moment for uni so this will go to buying some good food for once and not just the cheap stuff.”

The minor placings were filled by Moreland’s Paul Tancredi (12.04 seconds) and fast finishing Queenslander Matt Davies who flew home from the backmark of 2.25m to record an impressive 12.08 seconds.

In other events:

Australian 400m hurdles champion Tristan Thomas won the Redvys Cooper Memorial Jack Donaldson 200m in 20.29 seconds. Thomas, running off 10m, caught the front markers with 20m to go and crossed the line full of running to take the winner’s sash.

Maitland’s Trisha Greaves (6 metres) won the Strickland Family Women’s Gift from Stawell veteran Tamsyn Lewis (4 metres) in a scintillating 13.59 seconds.  Greaves, a national 400m finalist, surprisingly reversed the results of the semi-finals where Lewis pipped her on the line to go into the final as favourite. Coming back from a disrupted preparation which saw her tear a ligament in her foot, Greaves ran strongly throughout to claim the $2100 first prize.

The TAB Big6 Backmarkers Invitation 120m assembled a field of Australia’s finest sprint talent. Running off a mark of one metre, Australian 200m champion Aaron Rouge-Serret claimed the $4300 prizemoney and back-to-back victories in 12.26 seconds.

“I managed to nail the start. That was important in a field like that,” said Rouge-Serret referring to a line-up where two metres covered the field.

Other winners on the final day of the 2009 Australia Post Stawell Gift were:

Necropolis Florist and Cafe Hank Neil Veterans 100m – Ararat’s Marcus Cooper 11.08 (4.5m)

Northern Grampians Herb Hedemann 1600m – Canberra’s Philo Saunders 4.03.41 (5m)

ASICS Bill McManus Backmarkers 400m – Wantirna’s Max Lacey 45.64 (34m)

Endura Sports Nutrition Lorraine Donnan 400m – Essendon’s Tamara Hamond in 51.72 seconds (30m)

Stawell Gold Mines Bill Howard Handicap 100m – Mount Martha’s Tom Templeton 10.48 seconds (6m)

Australia Post Wimmera League Footballers’ Gift 120m – Nhill and District Sporting Club’s James White 13.91 seconds

Stawell Family Central Park Frontmarkers 400m- Caroline Springs’ Jaryd Phillips in 45.89 (38m)

Town Hall Hotel Grampians Handicap 3200m – Oak Park’s Luke Gray 8:58.09 (340m)

ACE Radio Handicap 800m – Airport West’s Arron Downes 50m 1:50.07

Stawell Regional Health Veterans’ Handicap 300m – Glen Waverley’s Darren Arthur 33.37 seconds (40m)

Gift Hotel Arthur Postle Handicap 70m – Sydney’s Justin Merlino 7.50 (4m)

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