Heard sets sights on Gift
22 Jul, 2011
ARARAT - Ararat schoolboy Corey Heard has his sights set on sprint glory at Stawell next year after winning his first race with the Stawell and Ararat Cross Country Club over a formidable 10 kilometres in his home town on Sunday.
At only his third official run with the club, the stylish 16-year-old athlete was far too nippy for the veteran chasers on the relatively flat course behind the Ararat harness racing track and cruised to a 26-second win over perennial placegetter, Peter Gibson.
The mercurial Sven O'Flynn, who is notorious for being good one day, bad the next, and vice versa, followed a poor run at Stawell the day before with another reversal to finish third, just three seconds behind the ever-consistent Gibson.
Heard, who is trained by Marcus Cooper, joined the distance running club this season to improve his strength and stamina for the loftier goals ahead.
"I fell down some stairs earlier this year and displaced a hip and it's been a bit of a battle to regain my fitness," the well-spoken teenager said.
"I was really out of action for about 10 weeks and it stopped me from competing at schoolboy level, but I'm looking forward now to getting right for the VAL (Victorian Athletic League) season and for Stawell next year."
Heard, who credits coach Cooper for his classical running technique, hasn't targeted any specific event at Stawell, but expects that the 200 metres, the 800 metres and the 1600 metres are within his sphere.
"When Corey came to me he had a desire to run well but his fitness was way down on what it should be," Cooper said.
"But, to his credit, he has worked extremely hard to build up his core fitness and he couldn't do 20 push ups once - he can now do 100."
Gibson, who strung together 22 top-five finishes in 2010, was the pre-race favourite on the strength of fast-finishing seconds at his previous two starts but again proved vulnerable to youth and enthusiasm in the cold and wintry conditions.
Thanks to the magical 'cure' of horse liniment, Chris Barwick continued his spectacular recovery from a season of injury by recording fastest time of 41.25 minutes and earning maximum points in what is developing into a tight battle for the club championship.
The club returns to Ararat's McDonald Park again on Sunday and a 10.15am start for the eight kilometre Fenn Family Handicap. New runners are welcome and details are available on 53562493.