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Leo Press wins Cowra Gift (Cowra Guardian)

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Final press gives Leo his breakthrough Gift

Leo Press wins Cowra Gift (Cowra Guardian) 8905948d-e582-411f-a7a5-5f60f96dd745

It was a case of third time lucky for Newcastle-based runner Leo Press who took out the final of the 2012 Cowra Gift 120m on Saturday.

Press, who had made the trip west on the two previous occasions of its running, made a desperate lunge for the line in a dramatic finish to seal his first Gift win by the narrowest of margins and pocket the $1200 cheque.

"It has been really good. It's my first Gift win so it's really exciting," Press said.

"It's one of those things with pro racing that you never know what's going to happen on the day and luckily I saved my best run 'til last. I had a bit of help from the crew on some technical faults and that worked.

As the front-marker in the final off 14.25m, runners swamped Press nearing the line but he held off Michael Kember (Cromer Heights) and Shaun Edwards (Coogee) to win in a slick 12.58 seconds.

Press attributed his success, which included second place in the Cowra Shire Sprint 70m, to hard work and an understanding family.

"It's a lot of time in the sun and in the gym which isn't so easy when you start getting a bit older and you juggle work commitments with family," he said.

"I'm lucky to have a very supportive wife who's understanding of my many absences whether they be at the track at home or traveling around to places like Cowra."

Although he felt he was running well going into Saturday's race, Press said it doesn't guarantee you'll race well on the day.

"You've got to just try and take care of yourself as much as possible," he said.

"You try to block out everyone else as much as you can and concentrate on yourself and luckily enough it came right for me today."

Overall, Press enjoyed the rising temperatures at Twigg Oval.

"It was warm but that's ideal for sprinting to be honest," he said.

"The ground was probably a little bit spongy which will suit guys who are a little bit stronger through the legs, whereas, I rely on leg turnover to get down and have to work that little bit extra hard. The finishes are obviously so tight the little bit of a downhill finish at the end is something that is well-received.

"You can probably tell that I'm built for longer distances. I only really got into athletics in the last five years, but I've still got a little bit of stamina I think - it reduces a bit as you get older, but I felt really good."

Originally from Tamworth, Press seizes the chance to return to rural surroundings when the opportunity presents.

"I love country NSW - it's nice to be able to come to the country," he said.

"It's a real community atmosphere and it's great to be part of the Gift while it's getting off the ground.

"We just enjoy the trips for what they are and I love coming to places like this - it still feels very much like home to me even though I have only been to Cowra three times. My wife is from Bathurst, so I'm pretty familiar with the area and it feels really nice to go on the trips and compete. The win obviously makes it sweeter, but we enjoy ourselves whether we finish first or last."

Queanbeyan Gift winner and back-marker of the field Dean Scarff finished in fourth while defending champion Elliott Marynissen was a late withdrawal.

Cowra athlete Chris Devery ran well to make the final of the Beecher's Wool Novice-Vets Handicap 120m finishing just out of the places.

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