2011 – Williams leaves Gift runners ham strung

Date: 1st May 2011

Queensland beach sprinter Mitch Williams has survived a torn hamstring in the final metres of the 2011 Australia Post Stawell Gift to hold on and win the $40,000 major prize purse in a thrilling finish at Central Park today.

In what was the most open final’s field in recent years, Williams, off 6.5m, stumbled through the historic finish gates and hit the deck in a dramatic finish to stop the clock at 12.18 seconds – the fastest time of the weekend.

East Lakes’ Edward Ware (10.25m) finished just one-hundredth of a second behind in 12.19sec, with Andrew McCabe from Queensland, off 6.25m, in third (12.23sec).

Starting as the third favourite ($5.50), the nineteen year-old held his nerve on the big stage to hold out his more fancied rivals including the heavily backed early race favourites Benjamin Weaver ($2.75) and Ware ($2.75).

“I’ve won a few Aussie titles on the sand which was good and I have been overseas for surf lifesaving but this is my biggest win so far,” Williams said.

“I definitely got a better start in that one compared to my heat and semi, so I flew out to a good start.

“I just concentrated on my own race so I could just run through everyone I could but at the end I pulled a hamstring.”

Looking forward to celebrating his victory, Williams, dedicated the win to his gravely ill mother who was watching back in Tweed Heads.

“I’d like to thank my mum, I hope she gets better, she has cancer at the moment.  This is for her,” the 19-year-old said.

After a recent change in coach, Williams also thanked his new mentor who took him on twelve weeks ago.

Coach Brett Robinson, a two-time finalist and runner-up in 2006, was wrapped with the win, but more happy that his charge’s hamstring held up.

“Every four weeks his hammy would strain and we would have a lay off. Last week was the fourth week so we had a really easy week and he ran brilliantly in the trial,” Robinson said.

“I decided not to bring him down here (to Victoria) before this event, I was too nervous about his hamstring.”

“He’s only had two races this year. He ran on the beach in February and he did his hamstring in that and I said to him you are not running again until Stawell.”

But it was a nervous wait for Robinson after earlier watching his charge storm through to the final with a dominating semi-final performance.

“It was much easier being an athlete in control of the situation than being a coach where you are just spectator for that last hour or so. I felt like I was going to vomit,” said Robinson.

Three-time world beach flags champion Melissa Howard from the Gold Coast was a jubilant winner of the State of Victoria Strickland Family Women’s Gift 120m.

“How exciting. I just wanted to have a good start and get down that field as fast as I can. The feeling is just amazing. To get up is so good,” said Howard who won in 13.90 seconds.

Five-time Australian 400m hurdles champion Lauren Boden (3.75m) was expected to win after qualifying fastest from the semi-final but found the 5.75m headstart too much to make up and had to settle for second. Sixteen year-old Victorian 100m open champion Sophie Taylor (4m) finished third.

Australia Post Stawell Gift – Final Results

1st Mitchell Williams Queensland



2nd Edward Ware New South Wales



3rd Andrew McCabe Queensland



4th Benjamin Weaver Mt Eliza



5th Paul Cracroft-Wilson Queensland



6th Kevin Brittain Grovedale



In other results:

–       Richmond’s Paul Munro (310m) took out the Town Hall Hotel Grampians Backmarkers Handicap 3200m in a time of 8:32.93 ahead of Highton’s Chris McDonough (260m).  It was an impressive performance by the fast finishing Craig Mottram who took out third off the scratch mark.

–       Bouyed by the encouragement of an admiring crowd, Kenyan runner Collins Scheboi was all class, proving too much for the field in the Retravision Herb Hedemann Invitation Handicap mile to win in 3:56.68 off scratch.  Brenton Rowe (25m) and Daniel Clark (55m) filled the minor placings.

–       National 100m and 200m champion Aaron Rouge-Serret (1m) continued his dominance of the speedster event, winning the XXXX Gold Backmarkers Invitation Handicap 120m for the third time ahead of 2006 Australia Post Stawell Gift champion Adrian Mott and 2003 world 100m champion Kim Collins.

–       Matthew Wiltshire (6.5m) won the Keith Hayes Memorial Bill Howard Handicap – 100 metres, stopping the clock at 10.64sec ahead of Stuart Bainbridge (6m) and Ben Mispelhorn (5.5m).

–       Bay Sheffield victor Jordan Caldow (0.25m) was too good for Maryborough Gift winner Matt Carter (scratch) and Woodside Gift champion Matthew Hargreaves (2.75m) in the Stawell Gold Mines Gift Winners’ Gift – 120 metres.

–       Perennial finalist Todd Ireland celebrated a long sought-after win in the Redvys Cooper Memorial Jack Donaldson 200m in 20.62s.  Running off the frontmark of 23m, the three-time Australia Post Stawell Gift finalist held on from Tim Eschebach (13m) who was forced to start two metres further back from that mark after breaking, and Stawell legend Rodney Mathews (18m).

–       Simon Fitzpatrick and Arnold Sorinas, the pair off the back mark of 18m were too good in the ASICS Bill McManus Backmarkers Handicap – 400 metres taking out the top two positions respectively.  Frontmarker Matt Grant (29m) held on for third.

–       Airport West’s Alice Platten (off 4m) won the Endura Sports Nutrition Lorraine Donnan Women’s 400m in 53.44s as she weaved her way through a traffic of colour in the finishing straight. Megan Letton and Laura-Jane Hilditch were the minor placegetters.

–       The men off 54m, Jack Lewis and Neil Brennan finished one, two in Northern Grampians Shire Council Handicap – 800 metres in a winning time of 1:47.43.

–       Queensland’s David Chantrill (49m) won the Stawell Family Central Park Frontmarkers 400m in 46.96s from former hurdler Marty Barrow (50m) and Pakenham’s Glenn Cooper (47m).

–       Zac Newman (40m) took out the Stawell Athletic Club Frontmarkers Handicap – 3200 metres in a time 9:44.09 ahead of Phil Noden (80m) and Lauren Crowe (350m).

–       Sonya Pollard (61m) scraped through for a narrow victory in the Stawell Regional Health Veterans’ Handicap – 300 metres in a time of 34.17 seconds.  David Chantrill (29m) and Marcus Cooper (15m) finished second and third respectively.

–       Anthony Crews (355m) was too good in McDonalds Little Athletics Handicap – 1600 metres to finish in a time of 4:25.07.   Ben Barton (255m) and Tyson Barton (305m) fought it out in the front straight for the minor positions.

–       Ararat Football Club representative Aaron McKinnis took out a tense Wimmera and Horsham Football Leagues’ Gift after two false starts.

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