2010 – Burbidge bags $40,000 booty

Date: 31st January 2010

Canberra sprinter Tom Burbidge has won the 2010 Australia Post Stawell Gift in emphatic style at Central Park today. Starting off 8.75m, the 25-year-old dominated the race from the gun, quickly gathering in his frontmarkers for an impressive victory in 12.01 seconds.

A mid-race challenge came from South Australian Dale Woodhams (7.25m), but Burbidge’s victory was never really in doubt with Woodhams and Douglas Greenough (9.75m) rounding up the minor places.

To watch the 2010 Australia Post Stawell Gift final, click here.

However it was not all good news for Burbidge, who was fined $5000 for ‘inconsistent performance’ after a slow run at the St Bernard’s Gift last week.

A red-hot favourite after recording the fastest heat and semi-final times, the 129th Stawell Gift winner felt no pressure leading into the final.

“I was a lot more relaxed before the final than I thought,” said the relieved winner.

“I was prepared for the guys to be travelling well out in front. Especially guys like Josh (Tiu) who were running pretty well. It took a little bit longer than in the heat and semi to get up (for the win),” said Burbidge.

Upon being presented with the $40,000 winner’s cheque, Burbidge, who left his job as a uniforms officer at the Australian Institute of Sport earlier this year to pursue his dream of Stawell Gift glory, announced he would use some of the money to pay off family and friends who have supported him in his quest.

“It hasn’t really sunk in,” the 25-year-old said.

 “I left my job about three months ago to concentrate on Stawell and nationals in a couple of weeks, so I am a little low on the cash at the moment. My folks and my coach have helped out a little so I definitely plan to give back as much as I can,” said the winner who plans to finance a racing stint on the European circuit with the remaining funds.

Coach Matt Beckenham, who had another athlete in the final in 18 year-old Brendan Matthews, was ecstatic with his charge’s victory and was unfazed about the $5,000 Victorian Athletic League fine.

“I am impressed with how Tom handled himself.  I knew if he held it together he was going to be very hard to beat,” Beckenham said.

“It’s a steep fine, but I guess there are rules and regulations that you have to deal with.  The difficult thing we have with Tom is that he is more than likely going to be inconsistent with his performance because of his ongoing back injuries.”

The Sydney Olympic 400m hurdler, one of the country’s most successful young coaches, had a total of six athletes in the semi-finals and now turns his focus on the Australian Championships where seven of his squad will be on show.

In a thrilling finish to the Make it Happen in Provincial Victorian Strickland Family Women’s Gift, Ballarat’s Jacqueline Watt (12.25m) held off a late charge from backmarker Kendra Hubbard (4.25m) to win in 14.01 seconds. The 30-year-old Watt blasted past the fancied Queenslander Seleena Roberts in the first 30m and went on to claim a long awaited victory. Former Great Britain representative Melanie Purkess (5m) was third.

Watt was thrilled that her return to the sport had resulted in the ultimate prize.

“After having twelve years off I came back to the sport because I wanted this – the Women’s Gift (at Stawell) and today I have got it.  It has been a lot of hard work but it’s paid off,” Watt said.

In the Endura Sports Nutrition Lorraine Donnan Women’s Handicap 400m, Amanda Crook (17m) snuck through on the inside of a tightly bunched field with 30m to go to hit the tape in 52.35s whilst Andrew Challis, 20 from Geelong took out the ASICS Bill McManus Backmarkers 400m in 46.01 seconds in a thrilling finish from Kew’s Sebastian Purcell.

Jacob Groth, one of Australia’s top sprinters needed every inch of the 120m track to gather in early leaders but emerged victorious in 12.66s in the TAB BIG6 Backmarkers 120m. 2009 Australia Post Stawell Gift Winner Aaron Stubbs, in his third race of the day, was a clear winner of the Stawell Gold Mines Gift Winner’s Gift which brought together the winners from each of the state’s top footraces. Stubbs won in 12.34s.

Canberra’s Kale Symons (40m) played a patient waiting game before kicking to victory in 3 minutes 59.67s in the concluding stages of the Northern Grampians Shire Herb Hedemann 1600m Invitation to defeat a quality field that included Commonwealth Games hopeful Brenton Rowe (15m) and scratch-marker Beijing Olympian Mitch Kealey.

In other events:

– The Stawell Family Central Park Frontmarkers 400m was won by Darren Naismith off 44m, winning in 46.65s.

– AFL boundary umpire Adam Coote (50m) won the Stawell Newsagency and Lotto Handicap 800m with a fast 1.46.78s.

Greg Barton running off 290m took out the Town Hall Hotel Grampians Handicap 3200m in 8.56.60s

– Stawell local Stephen Baird (18m) was an emotional winner of the Necropolis Florist and Cafe Hank Neil Veterans 100m in a quick 10.91s.

Stephen Andreazza (5.5m) ended a successful carnival by winning the Keith Hayes Memorial Bill Howard Handicap over 100m in 10.50s.

– The Gift Hotel Arthur Postle Handicap 70m was won by Australia Post Stawell Gift runner-up Dale Woodhams (5.25m) in 7.50s.

– The Redvys Cooper Memorial Jack Donaldson 200m was won by Lachlan Taylor in 20.59s.

Katrina Buckingham’s frontmark of 55m helped her to victory in the Stawell Regional Health Veterans 300m Handicap in 34.04s.

– The Wimmera and Horsham Football Leagues 120m saw an upset victory go to Ararat Football Clubs’ Lachlan Dalgleish in 14.09s.


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