Andrew Pym (Green) wins the 2001 Stawell Gift from Adam Burbridge (White).
Andrew Pym recalls his 2001 Stawell Gift win
By David Tarbottom
April 26, 2011
This year Andrew Pym celebrates the 10 year anniversary of his win at the Australian Post Stawell Gift.
Sydney’s Andrew Pym was a competitive national level sprinter, who had made semis and finals in gifts at Burnie and Bay Sheffield, plus Australian All Schools and Australian University games. He had undertaken a few Stawell tours with a group from Sydney University and was 23 when he travelled to Stawell for the 120th edition of the famous race.
“I was physically in shape and actually mentally prepared properly for first time ever,” recalled Pym recently.
“Only time I had ever hit a ‘zen’ like state was on the flight on the way down, as I mentally rehearsed on the flight from Sydney to Melbourne.”
Pym thought he could possibly place, but was mindful he had never got out of the heats. However, according to the Friday night betting, few considered him much hope, even though he had a generous handicap of 7.75m.
“I missed backing myself at 100-1, but got on at 50-1 - pretty sweet.”
On day one of the carnival he won his heat defeating Olympic medallist Obadele Thompson.
“I was only 4th or 5th fastest in the heats, important that you are top six so that you get one of the six seeded spots for the semi-finals.
“Saturday was about survival, especially if you have travelled about six hours the day before.”
Keen observers knew Pym was a chance. He lined up in the semi-final against former champion, Steve Brimacombe so there was no messing around.
His foot twitched on the block with heel coming off, but he still went on to victory. Pym vividly remembers the crowd reaction to his semi-final time.
‘The "ohhh" of the crowd as they pulled down the 2 of the 12 on the old school scoreboard. I knew it was now in my hands after 11.99 in the semi-final. “
Pym was into the final as an unbackable 1/8 favourite.
“For the semi-final, I prepared like it was my final,” but he was now into new territory now.
“I had never been in one (a final) and it was something I never thought I would get to do.”
The pressure on athletes between the semi-final and final is extreme.
“Essentially the pressure went to adrenalin as all I was doing was letting my sub-conscious execute.
“In the final I had a little issue, popping up a step or two early, critically I didn't think about it until after the race, just adjusted and got on with the rest of the race plan.“
Pym’s win was decisive, defeating Andrew Burbridge and Olympian Darryl Wohlsen in 11.97, even faster than his semi-final.
“I was ruthless up until the line, official finishing shot shows this.”
“Best performance of my career in the biggest race of my career. Initial thought across the line was denial, then a calm exuberant joy, and then the celebration which went for about three months.”
Andrew Pym’s career had been shaped by his coach, ex-Ukrainian Fira Dvoskina.
“I think she is best summarised by passion and compassion and a lot of knowledge and experience.”
Did the win change his life?
“No, but certainly it has influenced it. It provided clarity on the extra effort required for success, plus a confidence in my own ability to execute under pressure.”