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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Mark Hipworth recalls controversial 1986 Burnie Gift win

Mark Hipworth recalls controversial 1986 Burnie Gift win

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Hipworth remembers Gift furore

The Examiner
03 Dec, 2011

WHEN Mark Hipworth breasted the tape first and won the Burnie Gift in 1986, he was hardly the most popular man at West Park.
In the closest and most controversial finish to the Burnie Gift, Hipworth had edged out local favourite Darren Batt who thought he had won and challenged the result.

The West Park crowd booed and jeered the outcome, and athletic officials came under fire from all sides.

``I saw the footage of the finish afterwards and I believed I had crossed the line first,'' Hipworth said yesterday.

Hipworth, 51, is coming back to Burnie on New Year's Day and intends competing for the first time since 1986.

``I cherish the Burnie Gift, it was one of my biggest wins and I still have very good memories of it,'' he said.

``The outcome of the Burnie Gift often comes up on conversation and two Tasmanian runners I coached were always on about it.''

Hipworth is now an athletics coach with 50 runners under his care at Melbourne's Albert Park Lake track.

He is bringing 13 of his runners with him and they will contest carnivals at Latrobe, Devonport and Burnie.

``We usually go to the Bay Sheffield carnival in Adelaide but this year we put a group together for Tasmania,'' he said.

Running under the Hipworth banner are Simon Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Mollica, David Spence, and Alex Bacalja who have all won races at the gamed Stawell Easter carnival.

Also in the group are AFL boundary umpires Adam Coote and Chris Brown who use the summer running season to maintain their fitness for winter.

Despite his age, Hipworth continues to compete, and at the Stawell carnival was second in the veteran's 1600 metres earlier this year.

He was recognised for many outstanding performances at Stawell by being inducted into the club's Hall of Fame.

Hipworth has entered for the 1600m, 800m and master's 300m at the Devonport carnival on December 29-30 and the 400m and master's 300m at Burnie on New Year's Day.

Hipworth said Tasmania's Christmas carnivals appeared to be undergoing a resurgence.

``It's just a matter of getting young runners together and taking them across Bass Strait,'' he said.

``Once they have had the experience they will want to go back again.''

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