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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Nation's best on their way to Gippsland

Nation's best on their way to Gippsland

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1 Nation's best on their way to Gippsland on Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:37 pm



Nation's best on their way
15 Dec, 2011

The fastest man and woman in Australia head a list of exciting athletes set to strut their stuff at the inaugural Gippsland Gift in Traralgon on Saturday.

Australian 100-metre and 200m champion Aaron Rouge-Serret will contest the men's Gippsland Gift before lining up for the invitation only 120m Australian Championship, while recently crowned International Association of Athletics Federations Women's World Athlete of the Year Sally Pearson will race a full program.

Rouge-Serret will face tough competition from the likes of former Stawell Gift winner Adrian Mott and 2010 Youth Olympic Games 110m hurdles gold medallist Nick Hough, while the presence of 2012 Olympic hopeful Charlotte van Veenendaal is likely to ensure Pearson does not have it all her own way in the women's Gift and 120m National Championship.

Pearson and Rouge-Serret are also among six athletes expected to contest the 70m skins event, a knockout format, with two athletes eliminated each round to decide a one-on-one final.

In another coup for the event, Kenyan star Reuben Kosgei will race the 1600m.

Kosgei, who became the youngest ever winner of an Olympic 3000m steeplechase gold medal at Sydney in 2000, will run off scratch, 60m behind the smallest handicap.

More recently he won the 2011 Adelaide City-Bay fun run in September.

The newest event on the Victorian Athletics League calendar will be held at Traralgon Recreation Reserve, and will feature 15 competitive races set to kick off at 12.30pm until gates close at 8pm.

With fine weather predicted and disappointing crowd numbers at recent sporting events in the Latrobe Valley, event director Clint Hillas said he hoped the Latrobe Valley and wider Gippsland community would support the event.

"Obviously we need the community support, if the event is to continue we want people to come down and check us out," he said.

"It's a unique event, I'm hoping people are a little bit intrigued as to how it's run and given the locale of Stawell and how far away it is from here, it's a great opportunity to see a Stawell Gift (type event) in everyone's own backyard.

"The aim is obviously to take on the Stawell Gift so this is the first of many in Traralgon hopefully."

With a race set to begin "every two to three minutes", Hillas said the event would be "action-packed" and provide spectators with the opportunity to "get up close and personal" with some of Australia's premier athletes.

He said Sally Pearson would be conducting an autograph session and there would be plenty of entertainment, including races for Gippsland's fastest footaller and netballer, a family zone with kids entertainment and full bar and TAB facilities.

"We've got Sally Pearson in action, who's the current world champion and we've got the National Championship, which is the first time a gift has been sanctioned by athletics Australia," he said.

"We've got a heap of events that are going to appeal to a cross section of the community and I hope the entire crowd that comes down gets a lot of entertainment out of it, has a lot of fun and the event continues in future years."

Latrobe City mayor, Ed Vermeulen, said the Gippsland Gift was a premier sporting carnival that would provide significant benefits for the region.

"An event of this calibre generates widespread support from local business operators, the media and the greater Gippsland regional community," Vermeulen said.

"The Gift will showcase elite athletes and provide the local and wider community with the opportunity to see top quality sporting events in action."

There will also be a 'Get Healthy' fun run from 8am promoting health in the community.

Cost is $20 and entry includes a showbag and a ticket to the gift.

To register for the fun run and for more information on the event visit

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