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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Thousands of dollars up for grabs with the revival of the Botany Bay Gift

Thousands of dollars up for grabs with the revival of the Botany Bay Gift

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Thousands of dollars up for grabs with the revival of the Botany Bay Gift  

Jenny Pogson  
Southern Courier
via Sydney Daily Telegraph  
December 05, 2014


Melinda Gainsford and Nova Peris were some of the high-profile athletes that competed in the Botany Bay Gift.  

Australia’s oldest foot race, which once attracted top athletes like Matt Shirvington, Patrick Johnson, Melinda Gainsford-Taylor and Nova Peris, is set to be revived.  
The starting blocks of the Botany Bay Gift are being dusted off, after a hiatus of 12 years, by the NSW Professional Track League.

They are in talks with Commonwealth and Olympic athletes who will put the sprint race back on the map.

A lead-up race will be held on December 21, with the main race planned for January 25.

Shani Sleeman and Odette Blacklock in training with Roger Fabri for the Botany Bay Gift. Picture: Craig Wilson  
Former NRL sprint coach and Botany Gift racer Roger Fabri, who has trained athletes such as Jarryd Hayne and Sonny Bill Williams, has also come on board to train high-level athletes.

“When it was in its prime it was best race in Australia, even more superior to one of the richest footraces in the world, the Stawell Gift in Victoria,” he said.

“It had this amazing presence in the metropolitan area and used to have world champions parading themselves and being so accessible to public. There was a picnic atmosphere and the track looked tremendous.”

Andrew Muhlhan from the NSW Professional Track League hopes the race will become a big part of the nation’s sporting landscape again.

Matt Shirvington competed in the Botany Bay Gift in 2001. Pic Rohan Kelly.
   “There are currently gift events in Australia but there are not that many in Sydney, so it seems just perfect that rather than starting a new one to revive the Botany Bay Gift,” he said.

“We want to build up the profile and support, and eventually be the jewel in the crown of the NSW Professional Track League.”

The Botany Bay Gift first began in 1894, two years before the modern Olympics, and is one of Australia’s oldest footraces.

The race was abandoned due to corruption in the 1930s, but resurrected in 1988 for Bicentenary celebrations and was run annually at Sir Joseph Banks Park. It became Australia’s richest footrace after offering more than $100,000 in prize money in 2001, before being scrapped the following year.

Hugh Millar training for the Botany Bay Gift at Coogee Oval. Picture: Craig Wilson
  While the organisers hoped to hold the event at Sir Joseph Banks Park again, Botany Bay Council pushed the event to be moved to Hensley Athletics Field because of the quality of facilities and parking.

On December 21 there will be four races of different distances including 70m, 110m (with different races for youth, men and women), 300m and 800m.

The total prize pool is $5000 with $2000 going to the winner of the 300m race.

On January 25 the prize pool doubles with both the male and female winners of the 110m race to receive $2500.

Botany Bay Council is sponsoring the race and waiving the fees associated with the hiring of the grounds.

For more information or to register visit

2 1991 botany bay gift on Wed Dec 24, 2014 7:22 pm


The link is the photo finish of the first revived Botany Bay gift post Bicentenary. Live on National television Channel 9. Very controversial finish. Took 10mins to make a decision. Shelton (far right) won it 11.96 off 10.25. Lee Clark 7.5m in the black (4th from right in photo) was given the $4500 second prize. Him and I (third from right) laughed at it as he never got past me 12.05s 8.25m. Clark should have protested as he got pinged 1.0m for Stawell for this second place and it probably subsequently may have cost him a higher placing in that event. I was given equal 3rd with Capobianco. Halfway down the track I was thinking shall i try and win this and then tried - never subsequently won a gift EVER. One consolation the cheques all bounced and we had to settle for half prizemoney. The track is downhill but a cow paddock in 1991.
The limit moved to 5m in 1992.
I think it may have run in 1988 but I dont think it ran again until 1991.

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