Past champions tip Endale to make Easter Monday final

Date: 31st March 2023

The Powercor Stawell Gift has been on his mind ever since Endale Mekonnen received his 0.75m bonus for winning the Warrnambool Gift early in the season. And his dream of reaching the final at Stawell might just be about to be realised.

“I’ve had four wins this season from 70m to 300m and it’s been my best season so far. I couldn’t be happier,” Endale told us as the handicaps were announced this week and he was handed 8.25m, the mark he was hoping for.

“My preparation is going really well, (I’ve) just been trusting the process and slowly getting better and better each training session.”

This will be Endale’s 6th year competing at Stawell and he trains with John Hilditch’s FAST squad, who he credits for his recent success.

“John Hilditch is amazing, his love for running just makes our relationship so much better. I’m always learning new things from him every day and I couldn’t be any more grateful for what he’s done for me. My squad FAST is amazing. We’ve got a lot of quality runners and we all push each other to run to our limit to be the best. 

“What I enjoy about pro running is the community. Everyone there is like a family, each week you meet new athletes and make friends whilst having fun and enjoying your running.

The 19 year old is hoping to go one better than reaching the semi-finals last year. He is tipped to make the 2023 final by several previous Powercor Stawell Gift winners.  Matt Rizzo, Dhruv Rodrigues Chico, Ed Ware and Harrison Kerr have all rated Mekonnen very highly to be in the running to take the main title this year.

“The Stawell Gift is one of the most prestigious track events in Australia, the prizemoney is a huge incentive, but I believe having the title is worth more. It’s one of the biggest achievements for athletes in their athletics career cementing themselves as a part of history.

“Winning the Stawell Gift would be a dream come true for me, it would be my biggest accomplishment as an up and coming athlete and just having my name in the history books with other legends would be something I’d take a lot of pride in.”

On his hopes for the future, Endale wants to represent Australia at Commonwealth Games and Olympic level. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was young.” 

In the meantime the teenager from Hoppers Crossing works at Big W and loves “watching running when I’m not running, bowling and chilling out with my friends.” Endale’s family is originally from Ethiopia.

photo courtesy of Neil Jameson


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