Chloe Mannix-Power and Endale Mekonnen Set the Pace on Day One

Date: 30th March 2024

Stawell, VIC, Saturday March 30, 2024: Chloe Mannix-Power from the Gold Coast (QLD) and Endale Mekonnen from Hoppers Crossing (VIC) recorded the fastest times in today’s heats of the Change Our Game Women’s Gift and the Powercor Stawell Gift, placing them among favourites for Easter Monday’s finals. 

Built as a pre-race favourite in 2023, Mekonnen ran second in his semi-final last Easter and failed to progress to the final.  Now he has two sleeps to prepare his mind as he spikes up for Monday’s semi finals as the fastest qualifier, despite his 7m handicap being 1.25m less than last year.  

His focus for Monday however is clear.

“It’s just mindset, that’s it.  I know my mindset is strong and I have to be confident in myself,” Mekonnen said.  

Blasting out of the blocks in heat 1, Mekonnen was never headed, stopping the clock at 12.07, easily the fastest time of the 20 heats.

“I knew I was one of the favourites, so I had to make a statement.  I came here to win.  I feel way better than I did last year, much stronger, so yeah, I’m happy with the run,” he added.  

Fast times also followed in heat 3, with front marker Jack Lacey clocking 12.15 off 9.5m.  Maki Loukeris ran 12.20 in winning heat 8 off 7.75m, with Jake Ireland running the same time off 5.5m to win heat 14.  Ireland’s dad Todd made three Stawell Gift finals, with a best placing of third, so Jake will look to better his family’s best performance on the Central Park track come Easter Monday.  

Mannix-Power off a mark of 4.25m ran a time of 13.34s in the Change Our Game Womens Gift heats, followed by Jemma Pollard off 8.75m in 13.48s and Chloe Kinnersly off 9.75m in 13.497s.

An emotional Chloe told of how she nearly gave up running but Vikings Athletics coach Brett ‘Robbo’ Robinson convinced her to continue two years ago. 

“Robbo told me we had some goals to achieve together so I’m excited. I expected to be strong today, Robbo and I have put a lot of work into the preparation. I’d love to take home the cheque. We’ll just turn up on Monday and run the best race and see what the outcome is.”

Other notable performances include 2022 champion Harrison Kerr who stormed through from the back mark of 3m to take out heat 15.

Sadly it wasn’t the day for defending champions Ryan Tarrant and Bella Pasquali, as neither progressed to the semi finals.

The fastest time recorded in the SYPAQ Arthur Postle 70m Handicap was by Hugh Sharman off 7.5m in a time of 7.597 seconds and in the Stawell Athletic Club Women’s 70m Mia Spencer recorded the fastest time of 8.25 seconds off 6.75m.

The first sash of the day went to Bennett Maxwell in the Past Runners and Trainers Association Masters 1600m in a time of 4:18.915s.

The Stawell Gift Hall of Fame Backmarkers 1600m was won by Jake Hilson 3:58.719s.

The Northern Grampians Shire Women’s Handicap 800m Final winner was Milla Hopkins in 2:4.107.

Mitchell Iannello was the winner of the Hipworth Athletic Club Under 18 800m in a time of 1:50.287.

 The Powercor Little Athletics Handicap 800m was won by Jett Hill in 2:4.830.

Fashions at Central Park added the glamour to Easter Saturday with Lady of the Day going to Emma Scodellano and Best Dressed Gent Rob Houghton, each winning $1000 and Best Hat was won by Bella Antonino for the second year running.

Easter Sunday is Family Day with the Easter Egg Hunt and MattyB Kids Clinic ahead of another list of exciting races including the semis and finals of the Stawell Athletic Club Women’s 70m and the SYPAQ Arthur Postle 70m as well as the heats of the SYPAQ Lorraine Donnan 400m Women’s Handicap.

The prestigious Herb Hedemann Invitation Handicap 1600m will take place at 5pm, the winner of which will participate in the adidas Invitational 1000m against Peter Bol on Easter Monday at 1.25pm.

RESULTS Full results for Day 1 of the Power Stawell Gift Carnival are here: 

Tickets for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are available from Ticketek or at the Box Office at the gate. Easter Sunday action is broadcast on 7Plus from 9.30am.

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