AT only 17 years and nine months of age, Luke Mitchell has become the youngest winner of the Men’s Ballarat Gift.
It was an impressive line-up in Sunday’s final, including former winner Nathan Riali, who won the race in 2014.
Mitchell was the favourite going into the race having finished the heats with the quickest time, as well as the fastest time in the semifinal.
Mitchell was also a finalist in the Maryborough and Wangaratta Gifts, placing second at Wangaratta.
As the starter fired his pistol it was Mitchell who set the standard and the others had to play catch-up.
Matthew Harvey put the pressure early on in the race but there was no stopping Mitchell who followed up on his semifinal performance and was never in doubt, with any number of runners in the place getters.
Mitchell pumped his fist as his crossed the finish line; he knew he had the field well and truly covered, a clear and decisive win.
Mitchell thanked his coach, family and supporters and the Ballarat Athletic Club.
“I had the quickest time coming in so I felt a bit of pressure,” Mitchell said.
“I knew after the run at Wangaratta that I’d be up there, I just had to execute.” Mitchell’s next race will be at Keilor before he concentrates on Stawell.
Luke Mitchell (11m) 12.418 seconds
Rupert Lugo (10.5m) 12.604
Matthew Harvey (11m) 12.615
Hamish Adams (8.75m) 12.622
Nathan Riali (2.25m) 12.700
Edward Ware (8m) 12.711
Jason Bailey (9.75m) 12.747
Dylan Panizza (6m) 12.810.
A perfect day greeted runners in the women’s 120m Ballarat Gift final on Sunday at Wendouree’s CE Brown Reserve. It was billed to be a fantastic race and supporters were not disappointed.
It was anybody’s race as the runners took their mark but 2018 was Kate Jones year.
The Durham Lead runner has consistently made the final of the Ballarat Gift and recently took out the Ararat Women’s Gift.
Running off 9 metres Jones pipped fellow Ballarat runner and two-times Stonnington Women’s Gift Champion, Tara Domaschenz, in the merest of margins.
Footage had to be reviewed before Kate Jones was announced the winner, to a loud cheer from her family and supporters.
This year’s Wangaratta Women’s Gift winner, Stephanie Jinks, placed third.
“I can’t believe I finally got it,” said Jones straight after the race.
It took five finals to finally get the prize.
Jones was pushed the whole way by Domaschenz, only hanging on by the skin of her teeth.
“This is so exciting for Ballarat,” Jones said of the first and second placing going to local talent.
Jones thanked her coach Mick Benoit, saying, “I don’t know where I would be without him. He is my number one supporter.” “I would like to thank my parents for driving me around everywhere, week in, week out, to training and everything and I’d like to thank all our supporters who have come out today and wished our family well this weekend.” This win will stand Jones in good stead and definitely boost her confidence as she looks towards Australia’s richest footrace the Stawell Gift, which is held over the Easter long weekend.
Kate Jones (9m) 14.050 seconds
Tara Domaschenz (5m) 14.056
Stephanie Jinks (11.5m) 14.066
Laura Downie (8m) 14.114
Ebony Lane (5.75m) 14.210
Sienna Fighera (5.5m) 14.227
Talia Martin (6m) 14.313
Abby Chapman (3.5m) 14.334