2003 world 100m champion Kim Collins will attempt to become just the third man in 130 editions of Australia’s richest and most famous footrace to win from the mark of honour.
Following the release of handicaps today the speedster from the tiny Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis has been handed the scratch mark.
In a further boost to the event, the Stawell Athletic Club today announced that this year’s event will boast record prize money of $126,500 with the rise made possible due to increased athlete entries, sponsorship and government support.
The 156 strong field for the Australia Post Stawell Gift includes 155 men and one woman, reigning Australian 100m champion Melissa Breen, who has been handed the limit mark of 11 metres.
Collins, who celebrated his 35th birthday last week, is seeking to become the oldest ever winner to salute at Central Park. Currently the oldest winner is one of the most famous and celebrated victories, with Scotsman George McNeil prevailing at his eighth attempt in the Centenary Gift in 1981 – he was 34.
Reigning Australian 100m champion Aaron Rouge-Serret (1.25m) and 2009 Gift finalist Matt Davies (1.75m) will return to Central Park to try their luck in the Gift whilst three of the nation’s top one-lappers - reigning national 400m champion Ben Offereins (4.5m), Commonwealth Games relay gold medallist Kevin Moore (5.25m) and Australian 400m hurdles champion Brendan Cole (6m) - will also attempt to etch their name into the record books.
Last year’s winner Tom Burbidge (5m) has been pulled back 3.75m after taking home the $40,000 winner’s cheque. The Canberra based athlete is joined by four other former champions - 2009 winner Aaron Stubbs (4.75m), 2006 winner Adrian Mott (4.75m), 1997 winner Daniel Millard (11m) and 1999 winner Rodney Mathews (11m) who is one of the oldest men in the field at 42 years of age.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist and arm amputee Simon Patmore will start from 8m.
Prizemoney increases have been applied to the following;
· State of Victoria Strickland Family Women's Gift - 120 metres
· XXXX Gold Backmarkers Invitation - 120 metres
· Asics Bill McManus Backmarkers - 400 metres
· Official Supporters Club Stawell Frontmarkers and Waacks Bakery Stawell Backmarkers - 1600 metres
· Town Hall Hotel Grampians Handicap - 3200 metres, the additional division has been added due to the inclusion of distance sensation, Craig Mottram
In conjunction with Little Athletics Victoria and McDonald's an extended program has also been introduced to include six events for little athletes throughout the weekend.
Australia Post Stawell Gift promoter David Culbert said the handicap limit for the $60,000 event was extended to 11 metres this year, by agreement with both the Stawell Athletic Club and the Victorian Athletic League, in an effort to increase entry numbers in the Gift.
“We are pleased to see that Gift entry numbers have increased by 11% this year, after a number of years of declining entries,” Culbert said.
“This weekend’s national titles provide the perfect lead up for Australia’s best athletes so we know the likes of Aaron Rouge-Serret, Ben Offereins, Brendan Cole and Mel Breen will all be in shape and ready to roll.
“We also know Kim Collins is in great shape as he ran a personal best for 60m on the indoor circuit earlier this year.
“However one other thing is certain: the traditional Stawell smokey will be lurking on the entry list waiting for their opportunity to pounce.”
In the State of Victoria Strickland Family Women’s Gift, Melissa Breen will be the scratch marker chased by three-time national 400m hurdles champion Lauren Boden (3.75m), former women’s gift winner Tamsyn Lewis (4.25m) and two-time Australian triple jump champion Linda Allen (5m).
2011 Australia Post Stawell Gift
Kim Collins SKN Scratch
Aaron Rouge-Serret VIC 1.25m
Matt Davies QLD 1.75m
Tim Rooke VIC 3.50m
Brandon Galic ACT 4.25m
Robert Vidler VIC 4.25m
Ben Offereins WA 4.5m
Simon Greig VIC 4.75m
Adrian Mott VIC 4.75m
Aaron Stubbs QLD 4.75m
Tom Burbidge ACT 5.00m
The full list of handicaps is available via http://www.stawellgift.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23&Itemid=45
The 130th edition of the Australia Post Stawell Gift carnival will be staged over the Anzac Day long weekend this Easter from Friday, 22 April to Tuesday, 26 April, 2011.
The carnival kicks off with the Calcutta on Friday night and is followed by four days of thrilling racing, including the Driscoll McIllree and Dickinson Ladies Day and Stawell Regional Health Family Day, all culminating in the 130th running of the Australia Post Stawell Gift on Easter Tuesday.
For those still looking for accommodation at Easter, check out Stawell Central, a new accommodation precinct located just minutes from Central Park. Grab your family and friends and make it a huge long weekend of athletics, horse racing and social activities whilst revelling in a fantastic holiday atmosphere. Further information can be found on www.stawellgift.com
Last edited by Admin on Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:54 pm; edited 1 time in total