http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/26/3200634.htmMitchell Williams won the race despite tearing a hamstring in the final stages. Williams wins Stawell GiftABC News
Tue Apr 26, 2011
Queenslander Mitch Williams tore his hamstring in the closing strides of a dramatic Stawell Gift final on Tuesday and then dedicated the victory to his mother, who is battling cancer.
The 19-year-old collapsed to the Central Park turf in agony after crossing the line in 12.18 seconds, just one hundredth of a second clear of frontmarker Ed Ware from Sydney.
Williams, who made his name as a beach sprinter representing Currumbin Surf Lifesaving Club, has a long history of hamstring problems and coach Brett Robinson felt sick to the stomach when his man pulled up sore after winning his semi-final.
But the tendon held together long enough for him to claim the victory and the $40,000 first prize.
"I knew it was tight coming in but I had to run so I just pushed as hard as I could and it just made it," said Williams.
"Probably five or 10 metres out I felt it and then it just went 'doop' and it was gone, but it was a good run until then."
Williams also damaged the hamstring in his only other competition of of 2011, a beach run back in January.
But he was feeling no pain on Tuesday, with a big celebration in the offing.
On a more serious note, he dedicated the triumph in the 130th edition of the famous 120m handicap event to his mother Karen Swain, who is in hospital on the Gold Coast.
"Mum is in chemo now so hopefully in a couple of months she will be free of it," said Williams, who works as a personal trainer.
"I pretty much dedicated it to her for the weekend, just to have a good run and do it for her."
Williams changed coaches three months ago, leaving 1984 Olympic heptathlon champion Glynis Nunn to hook up with Robinson, who has been coming to Stawell for 13 years and was second to Adrian Mott in the 2006 Gift final.
"Mitch came to me fit and I knew he was fast," said Robinson.
"I had been around him for a long time, he has been a part of the surf club program so I knew him very well.
"Pretty much in the end I was just applying speed until his hammy started to play up.
"Every fourth week his hammy would strain and we'd lay back for a week.
"And this is the fifth week, so we had a really easy week."
Having been run out in the heats off a mark of 7m on his only previous visit to Stawell as a teenager back in 2009, Robinson was surprised that Williams was not given a more generous handicap than 6.5m this time around.
He was rated a $26 chance with the bookmakers before Saturday's heats and had firmed to third favouritism at $5.50 before the final behind Ware and eventual fourth placegetter Ben Weaver (both $2.75).
Queenslander Andrew McCabe finished third in the final in 12.23 off the backmark of 6.25m.
All of the big-name amateur runners, including 2003 100m world champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, Aaron Rouge-Serret and John Steffensen, were eliminated in the semi-finals.