Posted by Hopwood Wendy
Date: 21st February 2022
“Returning to Stawell will be an incredible experience given what I achieved last year,” the reigning champion said when confirming he will be back at Easter to defend his title.
The stars aligned for Ed Ware in 2021 when, a decade after finishing 2nd by 1/00th of a second, his dream of winning at Stawell was fulfilled.
“Stawell 2021 was incredible to say the least. Never before had I come to Stawell with such a clear mind and confidence in my ability. I was fairly certain I would take out the 200m, but the Gift is always so open that you never know where you sit against the competition until after the heats on Saturday.
“Seeing everything unfold after Day 1, I knew I had to make the difficult choice of deciding if I should attempt the double or not. I had joked about it with teammates throughout the season, but it was never a serious proposition. But as history will tell, fortune favours the brave and having a crack at both events worked for me in the end.”
As well as winning six races last year – the Maribyrnong Gift, Ballarat 4x200m relay, Hastings 70m and 300m, the Powercor Stawell Gift and the 200m – Ed was awarded the Eric Cumming Memorial Cup for best sprinter at Stawell, the VRTA Sprinter and Athlete of the Year awards and the inaugural VAL Medal.
But it wasn’t an easy path to success. Along with the triumphs Ed admits there has been disappointment.
“I’ve come so close before, particularly when finishing 2nd in 2011 to Mitch Williams. I remember crossing the line in that final thinking I had won, only to see all the attention go to the runner in white.
“This has always remained in the back of my mind and why I wasn’t 100% sure I won last year until I saw a few of my teammates and my wife running towards me to celebrate. When the realisation set in that I had won, I had no idea what to do and was just a frantic ball of energy looking for familiar faces to share the moment with.
“To finally win the Stawell Gift after 13 years in pro running just means so much.
Five years ago I was having my first official ‘break’ from the sport after the disappointment of finishing 4th in my second Gift final in 2016 which really got to me. I’ll never forget when the winner, Isaac Dunmall, said ‘you’ll win the Gift one day’.
“I thought at the time he was just being nice but perhaps he knew something. It was a long road back from there, I worked a lot on my weaknesses, running distances I’ve never been entirely comfortable with in order to improve the back end of my race.”
Ed believes that the cancellation of the 2020 Powercor Stawell Gift due to the pandemic worked in his favour. “I’ve always had a theory that whenever you think you’re ready to win a Stawell Gift you should wait another year, as you normally are a better athlete with another year of training under your belt. That choice was made for me when the 2020 Gift was cancelled and perhaps that’s the little bit of chance I needed. It was probably the best winter I’ve ever had and really set me up for an incredible season.”
Ed agrees that to be small part of the history of the Powercor Stawell Gift is the dream of every pro runner.
“The history is ingrained in all pro runners and it’s almost eerie how drawn in you get upon your first visit to Central Park.
“There are so many moments that make Stawell what it is and some of the most iconic in Australian sporting history were made at Stawell, most notably in my mind Josh Ross’ victory off scratch in 2005 becoming a two-time champion, and Cathy Freemans’ 400m victory in 1996. The honour roll is full of talented athletes, some who represented their country and some who just ran out of their skin on the day it counted.”
On his chances at Easter this year Ed said: “The Gift will be a challenge no doubt. I’m making improvements week on week and we’ll see what kind of shape I’m in this year. Fortunately, there’s more events than just the Gift so we’ll see how the weekend unfolds.”
On his picks for the win: “This seems to be a very open year so far. I do like the look of Hamish Lindstrom who won the Terang Gift early this season. He trains under my former coach Brian Wright who took me to 2nd place in the Gift in 2011 and has coached several other place getters so he definitely knows what he’s doing. Others with a good chance are Ash Maloney, Jasper Nettlefold and Nicholas Antonino.
Ed is kept busy balancing training with his full-time job as a Business Analyst on a major financial remediation project. He is married to Cassie who was by his side at the finish line as well as on the red carpet when Ed won the Fashions on the Field in 2019.
He lists his coach of ten years Nick Fiedler and previous coach Brian Wright who introduced him to pro running, Cassie and his training partners as those who have influenced Ed the most.
“I definitely have to thank my coach Nick Fiedler for taking me in 10 years ago and persisting with me for that long. Things haven’t always gone to plan but Nick has been a great guide over the years and the wider success of his stable is proof of that.
“My former coach Brian Wright is up there as well as he was my first athletics coach when I started at age 19. Without Brian I would probably just be running amateurs.
“My wife Cassie has to be mentioned, she puts up with a lot and has been there to celebrate the good times and commiserate the bad times. She is definitely my rock.
“Finally, I have been blessed with some great training partners over the years, there’s really too many to go through but whether it’s been to push each other to our limits or to offer good company to get through a session, they’ve all contributed to my success.”
Ed is proud of his achievements and likes to think there is more to come.
“The trophy cabinet is pretty full, but there’s still room for more. I don’t think anyone would be comfortable drawing a past Gift winner in their heat.”
Posted by Hopwood Wendy
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