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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Gippsland community deserts Gift

Gippsland community deserts Gift

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1 Gippsland community deserts Gift on Wed Dec 21, 2011 1:34 pm



Gippsland community deserts Gift

Latrobe Valley Express
19 Dec, 2011

A decision by organisers to move the Gippsland Gift from Woodside to Traralgon failed to have the desired effect, as spectators largely neglected to attend what was otherwise a positive event.

Despite heavy rain, last year's Woodside Gift attracted about 1800 spectators and was named 'Meeting of the Year' by the Victorian Runners and Trainers Association, while this year's event, held at Traralgon Recreation Reserve drew a crowd of less than 1300.

However, event director Clint Hillas said the feedback he had received had been positive and he hoped the event would remain in Traralgon beyond 2011.

"We felt as though the talent was there; we had the world athlete of the year Sally Pearson running, and in terms of gift running the crowd was not too bad," Hillas said.

"(However) for us to make it a really profitable event, I suppose we really needed the community to support it.

"I hope it doesn't mean anything (for the future of the event in Traralgon), but we've got to go away and assess things and work out where it went wrong and where to go from here."

Hillas identified the rescheduled Moe Cup and an Athletics ACT Summer Series meet in Canberra as unexpected competition for the weekend, and rued the timing of the event in relation to Christmas.

He said there was "no doubt" Christmas shopping and festivities had played a role in patrons snubbing the gift.

"The feedback we got was amazing; I got a number of text messages from people who were there that said they want it back next year, so it was very positive, it was just that no one supported it," Hillas said.

"We'll maybe look to move it from December and hopefully come back in January or February 2013."

There were plenty of highlights on the track, with two Australian titles decided at Traralgon Recreation Reserve.

Charlotte van Veenendaal was the big winner of the day, taking out the Women's Gift and as well as the Australian 120-metre Women's Championship.

On the men's side Alex Carew stormed home to win the $15,000 Gippsland Gift.

The news was not as good for event ambassador Pearson, who was rushed back to Melbourne last night to undergo scans on a muscle injury sustained during the women's gift final.

The hurdles star will be hoping the damage is not too severe as she begins preparations for a tilt at next year's Olympic Games in London.

Earlier in the day, a positive field turned out for the Brooks Get Healthy Fun Run, officially launched by Pearson, who later turned mentor for dozens of young runners at a little athletics clinic.

Another highlight was the stunning performance of Kenyan distance runner Rueben Seroney Kosgei in the 1600m final.

Running off scratch, Kosgei passed the entire field before being pipped on the line to finish in second place.

Leongatha's Zac Vernon also defended his title of the Fastest Footballer in Gippsland.

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