Date: 9th March 2021

Jerome Lugo hopes that come Easter he has improved enough to take home the Bill Howard Handicap 100m. If he retains his novice status, he is well positioned to win the race in which he was runner up to Darcy Ireland in 2019 and where his brother Rupert was victorious in 2015.

Jerome appreciates the history of the Gift and its role in showcasing some of the country’s greatest runners.

The Bill Howard Handicap is named after the legendary William (Bill) Howard, who is the only person to win back to back Stawell Gifts, which he achieved in 1966 and 67. Despite a broken bone in his right foot, Howard won the race in a time of 11.9 secs from 8.75 yards. He had just one run prior to making his second appearance in 1967 when he was the backmarker and won in a time of 11.6 secs. A little more than a half hour later, he lined up for the Backmarkers’ Invitation Handicap over 220 yards, off 5 yards, and won in 20.8 seconds.

“I think the Stawell Gift has the most storied past of any running event in Australia. I’ve watched the Stawell Gift on tv since I was a kid and I’ve been so fascinated with its history and the sprinters. It easily has the most electric atmosphere of any running event I’ve been to,” said Jerome. 

“It would be huge to win at Stawell. I’ve put in some serious work and effort at training to be good enough to compete at a high level and to see that pay off at the biggest event on the calendar would be an amazing achievement. 

“I’ve had a bunch of close finishes these past two seasons and I’ve been out to improve my running every week.”

Jerome trains with the Fiedler squad under coach Nick Fiedler in Ringwood, Melbourne.  He isa physiotherapist working in a private practice sports and rehab clinic in Dandenong.

Is there rivalry between Jerome and brother Rupert?  Rupert won the Bill Howard Handicap in 2015 in 10.661 secs off 5m while Jerome’s runner up time in the same event in 2019 was 10.500 secs off 8.5m.

“Rup and I have always had a healthy competitive sibling rivalry and he actually pushed me to try competitive running in the first place. We’re ultra-close and we support each other immensely but when we hit the track the gloves always come off. He’s won at Stawell before and naturally as his younger brother I’m out to try and outdo him!”

We’ll just have to wait ‘til Easter!

For more information on Bill Howard go to our Legends page here:





Jerome and older brother Rupert pictured here.

Main pic by Neil Jameson of Jamesons Photography.

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