Steven Sheppard (Blue) wins the Cowra Gift.
Sheppard takes out the first Cowra Gift
28 Mar, 2011
The inaugural Essential Energy Cowra Gift was taken out by Stephen Sheppard on Saturday at Twigg Oval.
In what turned out to be an almost perfect day, the organisers and spectators witnessed some tight racing by a class field of runners headlined by Sheppard who took out his first major Gift win.
Sheppard, off the mark of 8.25 metres, beat home close rival Lee Clark in a time of 12.53 seconds to take home the $2,200 prize for winning the Gift.
“It’s the first Open Gift that I have won and it’s also good to win the first Cowra Gift,” Sheppard said.
“I’ve been doing pretty well at the other carnivals throughout the season, picking up a few thirds and fourths and I thought I was on a pretty good mark.
“I started a bit slow today but I thought I warmed up in the end and when I came off the blocks I went for it and just hammered it.”
Sheppard got off to a fast start and quickly gathered his rivals and he knew he had the race won after he got past Clark.
“The commentator was saying my rivals name over the speaker and that got me going even more,” Sheppard said.
“Probably about 30 metres out from the finish line I thought I had it. “I saw the finish gates and there was no other colour around me and at that point I just thought ‘keep going and you’ve got it in the bag’.
“When I crossed the finish line it put a smile on my face and I’ve actually achieved it now.
“I’ve been running in pros for about five years now and I’ve picked up a few wins in the smaller races but this is my first big win and it’s definitely worthwhile.”
The woman’s Gift saw local hope Brooke White run well but, like the rest of the field, she couldn’t keep up with Samantha Sammut from Long Jetty who won off the 5.75 metre mark.
Other local chance, Tom Sharkey, unfortunately injured his hamstring in the heats of the Gift and had to withdraw from the event.
Sharkey was in ominous form too after winning the heats of the 70 metre Novice race easily and looked likely to put up a good challenge in the main event before injury struck.
In perfect conditions the day was a rousing success according to Athletics NSW General Manager Ken English.
“It was a terrific day. It was a beautiful setting, the track was very good and the times were pretty fast,” English said.
“I think the whole carnival has really great potential. The whole set-up and the way the ground looked once it was all dressed was a stunningly beautiful picture.
“It was highly impressive and no-one could be failed to be impressed once they walked in here and saw the whole set-up.”
The Cowra track impressed not only English—who rated it as one of the best he’s seen—but also Gift
“Driving into the town we were sort of wondering where it was and we saw this sporting complex here and we knew that’s where we had to go,” Sheppard said.