Here’s to you Mr Robinson

Date: 1st April 2013

Launceston student Andrew Robinson became the first Tasmanian in 72 years to win the Australia Post Stawell Gift in a nail-biting conclusion to the 132nd edition of the famous $40,000 footrace.

Running off 7.25m, the 20-year-old recorded 12.01 seconds for the 120m event to take the victory by just two hundredths of a second and was ecstatic with the win.

“Oh my god. I’m lost for words. I knew I was in good shape coming here but to win the thing. To win this, my life has changed,” Robinson said.

“I went out there to run as fast as I can and when those back markers get to me kick like a mule and get to that finish line first.”

It was a dramatic start to proceedings when race backmarker and $1.30 favourite Mitchell Williams-Swain, initially running off 4.5m, broke and was pulled back a further metre.

Robinson was quietly confident after the restart. “I thought my luck might be in. When that happened I was quietly happy about it myself. But I still knew I had to execute. I put that behind me pretty quickly.”

Half way down the Central Park straight Robinson hit the lead but with the finish frame looming, sensed the threat of the nuggety Queenslander.

“I could feel him. I could see him. Out of the corner of my eye the red coming on. I thought ‘get there, get there’ and the line couldn’t come quick enough and I got there so I am wrapped.”

Williams-Swain, who ran 11.95s in the semi-finals, narrowly failed in his bid to become just the fourth two-time winner of the race recording 12.03 seconds.

Robinson could not progress out of the heats of last year’s Gift having finishing third to eventual winner Matt Wiltshire and dedicated the win to coach Ray Quarrell who lost his home in the January Dunalley bushfires in Tasmania.

“I wanted to go out there this weekend and make him proud. I love him like a second dad,” said Robinson.

Quarrell coaches his charge remotely and despite seeing him only once every fortnight knew he was ready for the big race.

“We rested Andrew last week from the state titles. Then I trialled him and I knew he would have a great shot at Stawell. We came over and we did it,” said Quarrell.

There was still more cash flowing for the Robinson family as on Friday the betting opened on Friday night at $81.  “My old man got on it so he’s going to be a very happy man right now.”

When asked what he would do with the $40,000 winner’s cheque, Robinson promptly replied “It changes my life. I am a uni student. I’d like to buy a new car and put the rest to a house or the HECS debt.”

William (Ken) Hutton in 1941 was the last man from the island state to win, taking victory in 12 6/16ths of a second of 7 1/4 yards.

There was plenty of drama too in the State of Victoria Strickland Family Women’s Gift where Sydney’s Davina Strauss (off 10m) was a comfortable winner in 13.98 seconds. In Saturday’s heats the former world master beach sprint champion ran a sensational 13.69 seconds before organisers pulled her 4m for the finals because not all relevant information was available at the time of original handicapping.

Whilst Asafa Powell unfortunately scratched from the semi-finals there was still a Jamaican victory at Central Park as Khan Marr, a former bobsleigh competitor now residing in Australia, won the XXXX Gold Chris Perry Memorial Invitation Backmarkers 120m 12.23 seconds.

In other events, former Australia Post Stawell Gift finalist Todd Ireland (23m) dived across the line to pip former Gift runner-up Evan King (15m) to win the Veterans’ Handicap 300m recording 34.79s.

In a fast and furious final furlong in the Herb Hedemann Invitation Handicap 1600m three-time Victorian 1500m champion Daniel Clark in 4.03.06s won a hard fought challenge ahead of perennial Australia Post Stawell Gift entrant Kevin Craigie.

Malvern’s Kendra Hubbard running in the red colours of the backmarker (20m), dominated the Endura Lorraine Donnan Women’s Handicap 400m. The former Women’s Gift runner-up made her move down the back straight, hit the lead with 200m and to go and never looked back winning in 52.44s..

Running off the back mark of 10m Werribee’s Matt Hargreaves of took out the Redvys Cooper Jack Donaldson Handicap 200m in 20.68s and the VRTA 120m Series (VAL) was won by Ringwood East’s Cameron Moss (6.75m) in 12.69s.

Nicholas Cross from Carnegie took out the ASICS Bill McManus Backmarkers 400m in 46.08s off 30m. Meanwhile, Adrian Phelan from Essendon claimed victory in the Northern Grampians Shire Council Handicap 800m with 1.48.54 off 70m.

Frankston’s Matthew Rizzo (23m) was a jubilant winner of the McDonalds Little Athletics Handicap 400m recording 50.73s whilst in the four-lap McDonalds Little Athletics Handicap 1600m Jakub Williams won off 330m in 4.29.50 off 330m.

Maidstone’s Jonathan Woodman (54m) won the Stawell Family Central Park Frontmarkers 400m in 46.99 whilst in the Bill Howard Handicap 100m Queenslander Ted Belcher was a clear winner in 10.58s off 11m.

Dean Scarff (New South Wales, 6.5m) triumphed in the Stawell Gold Mines Gift Winners’ Gift 120m which showcases the winners of other prestigious Gift races across the nation. The Queanbeyan Gift winner recorded 12.37s.

AFL boundary umpire Ian Burrows (Elwood, 300m) took out the final event on the three-day carnival program, winning the University of Ballarat Grampians Backmarkers Handicap – 3200m in 8minutes 55.09 seconds.

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