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PROTRACK » GENERAL » False start haunts Mitchell Williams-Swain again in Stawell Gift

False start haunts Mitchell Williams-Swain again in Stawell Gift

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False start haunts Mitchell Williams-Swain again in Stawell Gift

Scott Gullan
Herald Sun
April 01, 2013

FALSE starts are not something uncommon to Mitchell Williams-Swain.

In the lead-up to his Stawell Gift victory two years ago, the Gold Coast teenager had struggled with the problem that was driving his coach Brett Robinson to despair.

Every training session in the week before the Gift, Williams-Swain couldn't stop himself from going early.

Luckily, he managed to pull it together when it mattered most.

Yesterday the yips came back to haunt him again.

After a brilliant semi-final run where he clocked the fastest time of the weekend, 11.95sec, Williams-Swain was seen as unbeatable and started a red-hot $1.30 favourite.

His coach knew there was only one danger and he was right.

A clear break by Williams-Swain saw him moved back a metre from 4.5m to 3.5m, which effectively ended his chances of another gift.

The fact he got within .02sec of eventual winner Andrew Robinson shows how well he was running and rammed home the enormity of the stuff-up.

For Robinson, who was running off 7.25m and the outsider of the field at $13, it continued his run of luck given former world record holder Asafa Powell had withdrawn from his semi-final earlier in the day.

"I thought my luck might be in when that happened," he said. "I was quietly happy about it. But I still knew that I had to execute, I had to put it behind pretty quickly and I had to concentrate on my race.

"I just went out there and ran as hard as I could and when those backmarkers came against me I just kicked like a mule.

"I could feel him (Williams-Swain) and I could see him in the corner of my eye and I thought, 'Get there, get there, get there.' The line couldn't come quickly enough.

"I knew I got there on the line and I could tell from the reaction of my training partners that I'd done it."

His coach, Ray Quarrell, who he dedicated the victory to given he'd recently lost his house in the Tasmanian bushfires, was confident even before the favourite's mishap.

Andrew Robinson causes a boilover in holding out short-priced favourite Mitchell Williams-Swain Picture: Mark Dadswell

The pair communicate mainly over the phone given Robinson lives in Launceston and Quarrell near Hobart.

"We get together with him once a fortnight when he comes down to Hobart," Quarrell said.

"He came to me about two years ago and he's got a great temperament. You just tell him what to do and he does it.

"I thought if Andrew was thereabouts with 10 metres to go he'd win it. I knew he would have a real good show at Stawell this year and we came over and did it."

Robinson, 20, who has been in the professional running ranks for five years, failed to get out of his heat last year.

"I've been watching the Gift ever since I have grown up so it has been something I've watched for years and hoped one day would get there and run," he said.

"I think last year I was really competitive but I didn't quite have the luck. I thought after that if I really train hard and put my mind to it then it could be a possibility.

"This year we knew I was running well enough to be in the frame so we really put our heads down and went for it."

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