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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Mitchell Williams courageous to the end

Mitchell Williams courageous to the end

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1 Mitchell Williams courageous to the end on Sun May 01, 2011 9:37 pm



Mitchell Williams is all smiles with the Stawell Gift trophy.
Picture: Stephen Harman Source: Herald Sun

Stawell Gift winner Mitch Williams's agony and ecstasy
By Rod Nicholson
Sunday Herald Sun
May 01, 2011

INSPIRATION and focus - attributes that cannot be under-estimated - were the hallmarks of this week's Stawell Gift winner Mitch Williams.

Beach sprinter Williams, 19, was inspired by his mother, who is enduring chemotherapy for cancer.

He also knew he had a dodgy hamstring, which ripped within metres of the finish of the 120m race.

Yet he remained focused throughout to take out the $40,000 major prize before crashing to the turf in a mixture of of agony and ecstasy.

The performance of the young man from Brisbane was outstanding. From 6.5m, he had to run the fastest time of the weekend (12.18sec) to pip the field in a blanket finish, yet he did so under enormous pressure.

Williams' determination and courage and obvious talent earned deserved praise, and was a highlight of the meeting, which again stamped itself the nation's premier professional athletics carnival.

But the Gift was not the only highlight, as the quality of runners in various disciplines was at its highest in decades.

Kenyan runner Collins Scheboi was simply stunning in the mile. He started from scratch, methodically rounded up the field and hit the front with a lap to go, eventually cruising to victory in the dazzling time of 3min 56.68sec.

Stawell legend John Toleman was moved to suggest this was as good a run as he has seen in 57 consecutive years attending Stawell - at least as good as Cathy Freeman winning the 400m from scratch in 50.8sec in 1996.

National 100m and 200m champion Aaron Rouge-Serret narrowly missed the Gift final but, from 1m, continued his dominance of the Backmarkers Invitation over 120m to win for the third time.

He beat 2006 Gift champion Adrian Mott and 2003 world 100m champion Kim Collins, whose performances and personality were crowd pleasers.

And the effort of Craig Mottram to finish third off scratch in the two-mile race, conceding winner Paul Munro 310m and runner-up Chris McDonough 260m, had the crowd enthralled.

The Gift, run on Tuesday for the first time in 130 years because Anzac Day fell on Monday, has beaten off threats of relocation. The challenge ahead is to maintain the quality of all fields.

The only ruckus of the weekend was a physical exchange between two runners, one of whom also is an official, which resulted in $500 fines and 12-month suspended disqualifications for both.

It wouldn't be Stawell without controversy.

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