Congratulations Matthew Rizzo, winner of the 2017 Stawell Gift.

Date: 19th April 2017

University student Matt Rizzo made amends for his 5th place disappointment in 2016 to win the richest foot race in Australia today.

The white hot favourite, who never looked in doubt off the mark of 7.5m, and was equaled on top of the winner’s podium by Liv Ryan, who stormed home to win the Australia Post Strickland Family Women’s Gift.

After recording the fastest overall heat time on Saturday of 12.10, he then clocked 12.12 in his semi-final to confirm his favouritism for the $40,000 final of the Stawell Gift.

He repeated his heat time win to take out the final in 12.10 seconds, ahead of Yallambie’s Nathan Riali and Kyle Grubnic, who won the Arthur Postle 70m yesterday.

“I’ve been taught to sprint to get across that line first and that’s exactly what I did in the final.

“Last year I wanted to win it so badly but it didn’t happen, but this year’s win will honestly change my life, it’s a dream come true,” Rizzo declared.

18-year-old Rizzo, who won a little athletics race at Central Park in 2013, said he credited today’s win to his support crew at work, home and at the track.

“This year I got a better support group, better training, better coach and more dedication. I met Matt Carter where I work at Bunnings and said I wanted to improve and win at Stawell,” he said of the Vikings squad that he is now a proud member of.

He admitted the knowledge he took home from making the final last year helped in keeping a lid on the emotions of being the favourite throughout the weekend.

“Too many blokes go in and say I’m happy to be here at Stawell, or they’re happy to be in the final, and that’s when it’s lost, you don’t think about it, you just get in there, get on your blocks and run,” the Langwarrin athlete said.

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