On track ... Matthew Hargreaves who had a stellar
year on the Victorian Athletic League circuit eyes
the Keilor Gift.
Hargreaves eyes Gift
By Michael Esposito
25th January 2011
WERRIBEE’S Matthew Hargreaves is hoping to continue a stellar and drought-breaking year on the Victorian Athletic League circuit – and the Keilor Gift is well in his sights.
The 26-year-old won the Woodside Gift in December, picking up a handy $10,000 in what was his first Gift win in Vic¬toria after years of trying. He has finished second four times in Gift finals in the past four seasons.
“I’ve won interstate before, in NSW and in Tasmania but I’ve never won a 120m in Victoria until this season,” Hargreaves said.
“I feel I’ve been unlucky, run¬ning second and third in most of the races in Victoria unfortunate¬ly, but never really got through for a win.”
With victory comes a hefty handicap penalty. Hargreaves won the Woodside Gift off 6.25m but since then has had to race off 4.25m. He will race off that mark in the St Albans Gift this weekend and a similar mark in the Keilor Gift.
Hargreaves has run a 120m race off 4.25m just twice since Woodside, in Maryborough, where he made it to the semi-final. But he still thinks a finals berth, and even a placing, at the Keilor Gift final is achievable.
“My goal is definitely to try to make the final there if I can. It’s definitely a harder race to win being a little bit more prestigious and being more difficult to get through,” said Hargreaves, who ran second in the Keilor Gift in 2006 and came fifth in 2009.
“It’ll definitely be a nice one to win if I can. I’m running well so I’ve got to go there with high hopes. There are some guys with good handicaps but anything can happen on the day obviously, and if you go in there running well you’ve got nothing to lose I guess.
“They have six semi-finals and the winner only automatical¬ly goes through so it’s a lot more cut-throat.
“Being back in the handicap makes it a lot more difficult but it gives me a chance to actually try and run hard each race and see how we go. I feel like I’m run¬ning better after the win, so that’s definitely a good sign.”
Hargreaves trains in Werribee four days a week under athletics coach John Henry, who also coaches Hargreaves’ brother Shaun and Laura Jane Hilditch, who won the Woodside women’s 120m final.
Shaun has also had some success this year, winning the 70m men’s open event in Woodside and the 550m men’s final at the Movember meet in Essendon.
“I’d like to win a couple more races if possible even if not over the 120m distance,” Hargreaves said.
“I’d definitely like to win a 400m and a 70 or something like that, I’m still fairly competitive in those races and I feel I could still be competitive and run well over all distances at the moment.