Caribbean kings in Easter cash hunt

Date: 3rd April 2012

Two of the fastest men on the planet – 2003 world 100m champion Kim Collins (St Kitts & Nevis) and world 4x100m relay world record holder Michael Frater (Jamaica) – believe they have the form to chase down the field in this weekend’s Australia Post Stawell Gift and take Australia’s biggest athletics prize back home to the Caribbean.

With a tantalising $40,000 cheque up for grabs on Easter Monday, Frater will attempt to become just the third man history to win the Gift from scratch, whilst Collins (1m) is looking to settle unfinished business after being knocked out in the semi finals last year.

One Aussie speed machine who also has his eye on the prize is 2006 Commonwealth Games 400m champion John Steffensen and the banter has already begun with his Caribbean rivals.

Eliminated in the semi finals last year off five metres, Steffensen has been handed a one metre lift by the handicapper this Easter.

“I believe six metres is enough (to win it),” said Steffensen. “I believe I can run a decent straight line and I wouldn’t be going down to Stawell if I didn’t think I could win.”

“They gave me a great mark and I’m in a lot better shape than last year. I love Stawell, it’s a great place to be and I had so much fun last year. The whole point of handicapped racing is that it gives everyone a chance and that why I like doing it.”

And has he given any advice to Frater who is set to make his Stawell debut?

”When Michael gets to Stawell he’ll be a fish out of water, but that suits me and Kim, so I’m happy with that. Mike is a very fast man so I need all the help I can get.”

Starting off scratch last year, Collins understands the challenge Frater will face as the backmarker for 2012. This year Collins has been brought forward one metre and believes a bit of patience will be enough to hold off the fast-finishing Jamaican.

“I’m very happy that I’m not way in the back this time, I need all the advantage to win this,” said Collins, who won a bronze medal in the 100m final at the 2011 world championships.

“Last year’s experience at Stawell taught me a lot about racing, about being patient to catch these guys. I was a little bit impatient in the semi finals, so having a little bit of patience this year is going to be my strategy.

“I would love to be in the (history) books as one of the great Stawell winners.”

Arriving in Australia in top form, Frater has taken time to research the unique race via You Tube. The 29-year-old spends four months of the year training on grass which come Saturday’s heats could prove to be his secret weapon.

“This is an Olympic year and I’m in the best shape of my life so all I have to do is be patient and not panic with the guys in front of me,” said Frater, the 100m silver medallist at the 2005 world championships who set his personal best of 9.88 last year in Lausanne.

“I’ve heard only two people have won the Gift from scratch but there’s not much pressure.

“I’m in great shape, I’m a very fast athlete and all I have to do is execute.

“As long as I do that, I’ve got as good a chance as anyone to win.”

The 2012 Australia Post Stawell Gift will be staged over the Easter long weekend from Friday, 6 April to Monday, 9 April 2012.

The heats of the Gift will be staged on Saturday from 1pm, with the semi finals from 12:40pm on Easter Monday, followed by the 131st final at 2:45pm.

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