Date: 16th March 2016

Tasmanian sprint sensation Jack Hale will make his return to Central Park this Easter weekend. Hale, one of the most exciting young sprint talents in the country and multiple under age record holder, returns in strong form having recently broken his own state open record of 10.31 seconds in Perth at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships. Running off 3.25m, 1m better off than 12 months ago, Hale will be confident in going one step further this year and making a Stawell Gift Final.

The 17-year-old will line up against New Zealand’s fastest man, Joseph Millar who will make his debut at Stawell this year, also starting off 3.25m. Millar recently won both sprint events at the Porritt Classic earlier this year, placing him as one of the favourites in this year’s impressive list of male athletes. 

Mitchell Williams-Swain will start from the tight mark of 1m as he attempts to win the Woolworths Stawell Gift for the second time. The backmarker first won the event in 2011 and was favourite going into the 2013 Gift final before a false start ended his chances of victory. Joining Swain are two past Gift winners, Andrew Robinson (4.75m) and Matt Wiltshire (4.75m), with the latter making his return to running after recent injury setbacks. 

Robinson and Wiltshire will be chased by last year’s favourite, Luke Houlihan who has been pulled back from his mark of 7.25m in 2015 to a more challenging 4.25m. Houlihan ran second by 0.17 of a second in the 2015 Woolworths Stawell Gift final after slipping at the start.

Trained by Brett Robinson, coach of last year’s winner Murray Goodwin, South Australian Jordan Caldow will be running off 1.75m. In front of Caldow will be Nigerian speedster Bola Lawal who will run off 2.5m. Former Jamaican sprinter and bobsledder, Khan Marr will run off 3.75m.

Other notable athletes include Tjimarri Sanderson-Milera (5.75m) who was a finalist in the Woolworths Stawell Gift in 2015, and Liam Proccacino (8.5m) who recently claimed bronze in the 400m at the Australian Athletics Junior Championships. 

The Australia Post Women’s Gift will also see a stellar line up of elite sprinters competing for the coveted title and $60,000 prize pool.

Australia’s 100m record holder Melissa Breen, a regular at Stawell, has been handed the scratch mark and will be hoping for a repeat of her 2012 win. One of the young gun sprinters Breen will be chasing down is World Junior Championship sprinter, Hana Basic (2m). Basic has made herself the one to watch after breaking Olympian Sally Pearson’s national junior 100m record in 2014.

Sprint Champion and Rio contender, Elly Graf (4.5m) is warming as one of the favourites after coming fourth in the Hunter Track Classic. Graf will start 0.5m in front of 2016 Ballarat Women’s Gift winner, Kiara Reddingius (4m). 

20 year-old Tierra Exum, twin sister of NBA superstar Dante, will also be in the line-up for the Australia Post Women’s Gift, running off 9.75m. 

2015 winner Grace O’Dwyer is back to reclaim victory, being pulled back to 5m after taking home the $40,000 winner’s cheque last year. O’Dwyer will be running off the same mark as 2014 winner Holly Dobbyn. Australian World Juniors sprinter Maddie Coates (3.5m) and three-time Olympian Lauren Wells (4.25m) are also in the mix.

2016 Woolworths Stawell Gift – Backmarkers

Mitchell Williams                QLD           1m

Jordan Caldow                   SA        1.75m

Bola Lawal                         VIC         2.5m

Andrew James McCabe    QLD           3m

Jack Hale                          TAS       3.25m

Joseph Millar                     NZ         3.25m

Matt Carter                        VIC          3.5m

Jacob Despard                  TAS       3.75m

Khan Marr                          VIC       3.75m

Ryan Bedford                                      4m

2016 Australia Post Women’s Gift – Backmarkers

Melissa Breen                    VIC           0m

Hana Basic                        VIC            2m

Maddie Coates                   VIC        3.5m

Elly Graf                            NSW          4m

Kiara Reddingius                WA           4m

Lauren Wells                     ACT      4.25m

Kendra Hubbard                VIC         4.5m

Angela Byrt                        VIC            5m

Holly Dobbyn                     VIC            5m

Grace O’Dwyer                  VIC            5m

For a full list of handicaps, click here.  

This year’s Woolworths Stawell Gift will be live nationally on the Seven Network with a two and a half hour telecast on Easter Monday. 

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