20 Year Anniversary Win: Rebecca Foster’s Achievement

Date: 13th March 2024

Bec Foster is a walking (or running) example of going for gold in everything she does. Two decades ago, at the age of 33, Rebecca won the Strickland Family Womens Gift. Three months ago, she gave birth to Amelia, “my little angel and blessing” at the age of 53.

In 2004 Rebecca Foster flew to the finish line from the frontmarker position to win in a very tight finish over Lauren Hewitt.

Lauren Hewitt was the National 100m champion at the time and only the 4th female to contest the Stawell Gift alongside the men. She didn’t make it out of her heat in the main race, but she did line up in the final of the Womens Gift as the backmarker – “possibly off scratch,” Bec tried to recall. Documentation of the details of the Women’s races from the era is hard to come by.

It was the year that Jason Hunte from Barbados won the Open Gift after knocking out Josh Ross in the semi-finals by 6/1000th of a second. Jason won the final of the Open Gift in one of the closest finishes for many years from Chris Tuohy from Brunswick; American Greg Saddler; Alfredton’s Even King; Jarrod Meagher from Collingwood and Andrew Johnston from Kealba. 

Rebecca Foster recounted her trip to Stawell from Albury with her family – husband and two boys. 

“The prizemoney then was $1200, it cost us that much to go to Stawell! But of course, you don’t do it for the money,” said Rebecca.  Jason Hunte’s prize was $32,000.

It was a double celebration and big news in Albury as Jason Hunte had made the town his temporary home leading up to the Stawell Gift after arriving in Australia to train under the guidance of Marcus Arnold.

Bec reminisced on the support, and perhaps scepticism, she encountered.

“No one thought I was going to win. It was the 3rd time I had run at Stawell and the first time I had made the final. The first time I took a big dive in the heats and took all the skin off my nose. But in that 2004 final I wasn’t going to let anyone pass me!

“I started the weekend on 100/1 and when I asked my (now ex) husband if he wanted to put $50 on me, he said ‘I don’t want to waste my money!’ The odds did come down as I progressed through to the semis and the final but even so, we were devastated that we didn’t have a wager.”

Originally from Albury in NSW and now residing in Wollongong, Rebecca recalled visiting her winner’s plaque in the Main Street of Stawell only to find the organisers had engraved the plaque with Lavington, Victoria. “Lavington is a suburb of Albury which is most definitely in NSW! But I didn’t mind and told them not to spend the money to redo it.

“It doesn’t feel like 20 years ago,” she reflects, her passion for the sport still evident. “I still keep fit and go to the gym. Age is just a number.”

Bec entertains the idea of returning to the Stawell track once more. “I would love to make a return and run on ‘the Park’ again,” she shares, a glimmer of excitement in her voice. “I often watch it on tv or read about the Stawell Gift and think to myself “oh yeah I’ve won that.” 

Beyond her athletic achievements, Rebecca finds pride in her family’s successes. “I’m extremely proud of them both,” she says, referring to her sons’ accomplishments in their respective fields.

“Jade lives in Melbourne, is an actor and model, and makes a living being a ‘social media influencer’ with over 1.2m followers on Instagram! Christian represented Australia at the IAAF World Juniors in the USA and made the 200m final in his first run at Stawell as the back marker in red at age 16. He’s now a police officer based in Sydney.”

Comments are closed.