Big names to compete in Noosa Gift
ATHLETICS: Three Stawell Gift winners will line up in this weekend's $6000 Noosa Gift at Girraween Sports Complex, including the reigning champion Isaac Dunmall.
In a massive boost for the Noosa Gift Athletics Carnival, hosted by the Noosa Little Athletics Club and the Queensland Athletic League, past Stawell winners Mitchell Williams (2011) and Aaron Stubbs (2009) will also take part in the handicap dash over 110m.
The Stawell Gift is one of the most treasured events in Australian athletics and this year boasted a prize pool of $60,000. The final is traditionally held on Easter Monday and broadcast live across the nation.
Co-ordinator Ian Smith said organisers were "stoked” to entice three Stawell Gift winners to Noosa.
"Most years we're happy for one to show up... we've got some real screamers in the field this year,” Mr Smith said.
Dunmall comes into the event in blistering form, having run a personal best 10.44 for the 100m at Brisbane on November 5, albeit with a wind advantage.
He won at Stawell from lane five with a 6.75m handicap in the final but is looking forward to returning to Noosa after he missed the race through injury in 2015.
"It's one of those bigger gifts on the Queensland circuit and one of the races you want to get to,” he said.
The 22-year-old said he knew a win at Stawell would change his life, he just didn't know how drastically.
He was once just a boy from Brisbane, who competed for Southport in surf life saving.
He'd made numerous attempts at Stawell and went into the final in 2014 carrying an injury.
But his fortunes changed this year when he beat Tjimarri Sanderson-Milera and boom teenager Jack Hale.
"It's been pretty crazy,” he said. "I do my own little sports radio segment with a station down in Victoria... people are ringing me and wanting me to run in their races.”
Smith said organisers would also introduce a "back markers” final which could pit some of Australia's fastest runners, who were handicapped out of the main event, against each other.
"Potentially, it could be one of the fastest races held in Queensland this year,” he said.