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Forrest wins Maryborough Gift

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1Forrest wins Maryborough Gift Empty Forrest wins Maryborough Gift Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:35 am



Forrest runs to victory in Maryborough Gift

By Nathan Dole
Bendigo Advertiser
Jan. 1, 2014

TALLANGATTA'S Lee Forrest sprinted to a dramatic victory in yesterday's $15,000 Bendigo Bank Maryborough Gift final.

The 18-year-old won his heat, semi and final to pocket the $8000 winner's cheque in the 120m duel at the 153rd Highland Gathering.

"This is an amazing feeling," Forrest said shortly after being declared the winner at Princes Park.

Judges called for the photo as it was just millimetres between Forrest and Noddy Angelakos.

Racing at Maryborough for the first time, Forrest raced off the 7m mark and caught Angelakos, 12m, just before the finishing great.

"To have won this final is incredible," Forrest said of a win completed in 12.35 seconds, but achieved after many hours training.

"This is just the the third Gift meet I have competed at."

Rivals in the final included Cam Dunbar, winner of the Maryborough Gift final a decade ago, and Shaun Hargreaves, a regular finalist on the Victorian Athletics League circuit.

An injured leg after a motorcycling crash kept Forrest on the sidelines for most of the 2012-13 VAL season.

The Marcus Arnold-trained sprinter juggled training and year 12 studies at Tallangatta Secondary College in 2013.

Racing plans for 2014 will be as many Gift meettings as possible.

"A lot depends on injury, but I am really keen to race at the big meetings like Bendigo Thousand, Ballarat Gift, and Stawell Gift," Forrest said.

"It's been a great way to start the year."

It was an anxious wait for Forrest as judges checked the video.

"I just ran as fast as I could. The start was one of my best for the day.

"At the finish I couldn't really see across my left.

"I thought it was close, but not was not really sure if I had won."

A win by Forrest at age 10 caught Arnold's attention.

"I didn't start being serious about athletics until I was 16," the teenager said.

He will be keen to return to Maryborough for another tilt at Gift glory in 2015 on the Princes Park track.

Placings in the the 2014 Maryborough Gift final:
1 Lee Forest 7m 12.346 seconds;
2 Noddy Angelakos 12, 12.404;
3 Dean Scarff 5.50, 12.444;
4 Darren Whittaker 12, 12.588;
5 James Vine 5, 12.606;
6 John Adams 7.25, 12.617;
7 Cam Dunbar 7.25, 12.705;
8 Shaun Hargreaves 6, 12.812.

2Forrest wins Maryborough Gift Empty Re: Forrest wins Maryborough Gift Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:40 am



Forrest's gift glory after a comeback from injury

Ballarat Gift
Jan. 2, 2014

NOW he has tasted Gift glory, Lee Forrest says he wants to win as many as possible.

Forrest’s win in the $15,000 Maryborough Gift 120-metre handicap yesterday rewards a steady comeback from a motorcycle accident that had him needing skin grafts and kept him sidelined for most of last season – his first summer on the Victorian Athletic League circuit.

He still bares the scars from the accident on the back of his right knee.

“(Winning) feels pretty amazing,” the 18-year-old said.

“I thought I had a good chance ... I knew I was running my best when I got a good start.

“The track is nice and sharp and there was a bit of a tail wind through most of the heats and semis.”

The teen from Tallangatta, near Albury-Wodonga, running off seven metres, edged out strong contender Noddy Angelakos (12m) to win the coveted New Year’s Day sash in 12.34 seconds.

New South Wales’ Dean Scarff (5.5m) was third.

Still relatively inexperienced in VAL meets, Forrest has trained with his coach Marcus Arnold since the trainer spotted him in a primary school race.

Forrest says he will wait to consult his coach on his next move in athletics and, fresh out of high school into a gap year, will have more time to focus on his running and part-time work.

“I just love pro running,” Forrest said.

“Hopefully I have a few more left in me.

“I’m just happy I’ve done the best I could.”

Defending champion Joel Bee, from Ballarat, reached the semi-finals.

Bee had the tightest mark of the entire field, running off one metre, but a strong finish in the heats allowed him to progress to the semi-finals as a fastest qualifier.

Ballarat’s other contenders in the Gift were Peter O’Dwyer and Matt Wiltshire.

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