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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Breen calls for parity at Stawell

Breen calls for parity at Stawell

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1 Breen calls for parity at Stawell on Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:03 pm



Sprint queen Melissa Breen calls for Stawell Gift parity

David Polkinghorne
Sports reporter at The Canberra Times
20 November 2014

Australia's fastest ever female sprinter Melissa Breen thinks it's time the Stawell Gift introduced the same prizemoney for men and women at the famed Victorian race.

Breen will run in the Queanbeyan Gift this weekend, where the winner of both the men's and women's races will take home $12,000 each.

While there's prizemoney parity there, it's a vastly different story at Stawell, with the country Victoria race offering $40,000 to the winner of the men's race and a paltry $2500 for the victorious woman.

The Queanbeyan Gift is the start of a long campaign towards next year's world championships in Beijing in August and she'll need to run a qualifying time of 11.33 seconds for the 100-metre and 23.20 for the 200m to make it there.

Looking for her second Queanbeyan Gift, Breen said it would be difficult to make the final or win as she's running off scratch, but she would be happy to break 14 seconds.

"There's so much prestige with the Stawell Gift and I know the women haven't been running in it as long, but if there was equal prizemoney, I don't see why not, imagine $40,000 for a woman," Breen said on Thursday.

"But in today's society you shouldn't just be saying 'imagine' it should just be standard I think, but hopefully next year it will be a little more."

When Breen  won the women's gift at Stawell in 2012 ($2560) she almost received as much money from winning the fashions on the field ($1000).

Fellow Olympian Lauren Wells felt parity would take time, but thought it should be Stawell's long-term goal.

Wells was also excited about the world champs time she needed to achieve - 56.2 seconds for the women's 400m hurdle.

The 26-year-old is desperate to break her personal best of 55.08 next year as she aims to make the final.

With a handicap of 4m, Wells thought she was a chance of winning her second Gift on Sunday as she's in the middle of a speed-training block.

She was excited about Canberra hosting a leg of the Australian Athletics Tour on February 7, which is when she'll run her first 400m hurdle of the summer.

Wells wants it to become a permanent fixture of the tour and thought other athletes would too because of the fast times run at the AIS track.

"The day Melissa ran the Australian record was during the ACT championships this year," Wells said.

"I think there was an Australian record, six A-qualifiers, 10 B-qualifiers for Commonwealth Games, it was a huge couple of days and that was just the state championships so people travel for that and they know Canberra has a great track, great conditions. People are going to come."


Queanbeyan Gift at Queanbeyan Park. Heats Saturday from 11am, semi-finals and finals Sunday from 10.30am with the Gift finals from 3.10pm. Street party Saturday 6pm-11pm.

Just for the record the Stawell Gift is not a MEN only event and has been that way since it was opened up to all athletes in the mid 1980's.  It is open to anyone willing to enter, bearing in mind there is a limit. The race does not preclude females from running in it. Like the Melbourne Cup, the handicap is the limiting factor not gender.

The women's 120m at Stawell, like every other race at Stawell (bar the Gift) is there as a support race for the main event. There is only ONE Stawell Gift and it's been that way for 130 years.

Queanbeyan is a totally different concept in that it split on gender lines. A female cannot enter the Men's Gift. There are two Gifts hence similar prize money for each.

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