Sophie Taylor's up to scratch for her third Ballarat Gift
BY MELANIE WHELAN
09 Feb, 2012
SCHOOLGIRL Sophie Taylor has blitzed the field before from the backmark in the Ballarat Women’s Gift 120-metre Handicap.
This time, her attempt to win a third consecutive women’s sash at Eureka Stadium will be tougher.
Taylor is starting from scratch.
The 16-year-old hits town tomorrow night for an evening heat session to launch the Ballarat Gift meet.
It is the first major outing for the talented Bendigo teenager in the Victorian Athletic League this season, having overcome hamstring niggles the past couple of months.
“I am really excited to go down to Ballarat again but it might be a bit harder this year, running off scratch,” Taylor said.
“I think this year might be a bit different for me – I might feel the pressure of defending my title a little bit more.”
Taylor captured her first Ballarat win in 2010 off 4.25 metres.
She tore the field apart last year, in the red, off 2m, just 40 minutes after taking out the open 70m handicap title in a photo finish from Andrew McCabe, who went on to win the Ballarat Gift.
Taylor said a good start was her secret to conquering Eureka Stadium but hoped the earlier fixturing of the Ballarat meet this season would suit her race even better.
“The past couple of years it’s been pretty cold and a massive headwind,” Taylor said. “Hopefully this weekend the weather will be a bit warmer and, with luck, I might get a tailwind.
“I mostly hope for a good start and then I’m confident.”
Taylor will use Ballarat as a key step to return to the world stage as she vies to qualify for the IAAF World Junior Championships via next month’s junior nationals in Sydney.