Date: 23rd February 2021

“It’s absolutely awesome and a privilege to be a Stawell Gift Champion,” enthuses 2017 Men’s Gift winner Matt Rizzo who now has his sights set on representing Australia.

Matt has put a strong focus on track and field since the last Powercor Stawell Gift (held in 2019) with highlights including back to back wins in the 4x100m Men’s Open Relay at the Victorian State Championships for Mornington Peninsula, and his 3rd place behind Jack Hale and Jake Doran in the men’s 100m ACT State Titles in 2020, setting a new personal best time of 10.34 in the process.

“Additionally, I have been selected into two Australian 4x100m relay squads, with aims of representing Australia at the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games.”

Reflecting on 2020, Matt said the year started out well.  “The start to 2020 was awesome! My training and competition times indicated I was heading in the right direction and would be in decent shape at the Australian National Titles later in the year.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 put a stop to the athletics season. It was disappointing to have the season end so suddenly, but no one expected everything to take such a hit.  It did take a toll on my pre-season training due to the harsh lockdowns in Victoria. However, we became creative and flexible with my program and I was able to fit in most of my training during lockdown.

“In September 2020 I decided to move my life up to the Gold Coast to pursue my goals within athletics with Ryan Hoffman and his Kraken Athletics squad, as well as to be closer to my partner Bree. It’s been a year of big change and learning how to constantly adapt to the effects of Covid-19, however I am still enjoying the process.”

Matt’s ultimate goal is to represent Australia and the first step in that journey would be a spot in the men’s 4 x 100m relay at the Tokyo Olympics.

“This goal isn’t easy and takes a lot of time, dedication and patience to achieve. However, I believe I’m laying down the foundations I need to help get me closer to this goal. My long-term future goals would be to represent Australia at any opportunity given in a 100m or relay event and continue to better my personal bests.

“Outside of athletics, I would like to complete my teaching degree and go on to become a school teacher in the future.”

Matt believes it is the Powercor Stawell Gift’s heritage and tradition that makes it so iconic, as well as the number of great athletes involved over the 139-year history and the many visitors it attracts every year.

“So many people come down to the small town of Stawell to spend their Easter long weekend watching the Stawell Gift. I am extremely honoured to be a part of this history and this iconic event.

“It’s amazing to see Powercor come on board to support the 2021 Stawell Gift and the future of the event during the current Covid-19 circumstances. I think it will be a very successful event and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future.

“I’d encourage all young athletes to get involved with pro-running. It’s an environment that offers fun and enjoyment but also the opportunity to be competitive whatever their ability.”

Matt’s picks for this year’s Powercor Men’s Gift are Daniel Sonsini, Luke Houlihan and Matt Burleigh.  


Comments are closed.