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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Grace O'Dwyer wins the Women's Stawell Gift

Grace O'Dwyer wins the Women's Stawell Gift

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1 Grace O'Dwyer wins the Women's Stawell Gift on Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:09 am


Teen's life in Stawell a gift

By Michael Gleeson  
Sports Writer for The Age
April 6, 2015

Grace O'Dwyer grew up at the Stawell Gift. Her father and coach Peter is a veteran of the race. Her parents met at the famous country foot race. But never had Peter done what his 15-year-old daughter did on Monday.

Grace O'Dwyer won the women's Stawell Gift. The teenager pocketed with it the winners' cheque of $40,000 – the first time the race has had parity in men's and women's prizemoney.

"I don't think it has sunk in, I can't believe it," the Ballarat schoolgirl said. "I've been working so long for this. I was so nervous after the semi when I didn't think I'd made it, I was so disappointed.

"But then I came back … that race was just a blur, I can't even remember it. It's amazing, I can't even describe it,"  

Peter O'Dwyer – Pod – has been to 28 Gifts and been a runner-up in the race. He has coached a men's winner and last year's women's winner. He met his wife Barb at Stawell and now they have a Stawell Gift winner themselves.

"That was huge … we are rapt," Peter said. "I was 21 when I ran my first one. If she keeps going she will have run eight by the time I ran my first.

"She is 15, she is not 16 for a couple of months. We were quietly confident about her. It was never going to be dead-set like Holly Dobbyn last year, it was always going to be close.

"She was a ball of nerves going into the semi and having to get through on fastest times was probably a blessing. She had nothing to lose, she could relax and go for it."

O'Dwyer made it into the final on the fastest time only after she was second in her semi-final. She edged out two-time Commonwealth Games finalist and national 400 metres hurdles champion Lauren Wells a place in the final by two thousandths of a second.

National record-holder Melissa Breen, running off scratch, national 200 titleholder Ella Nelson (2.75 metres) were unable to get through the semis. The shortest handicap in the final was 9.5 while O'Dwyer ran from 10.25.

Commonwealth Games representative Morgan Mitchell surged through the field but was unable to make up enough ground to claim the win in the handicapped 400 event.

Mitchell, running off three metres, had to make up more than 30 metres on the field. Ali Trewartha, who started off 38, won the event in 53.97 seconds, holding out Mitchell (54.13).

Mitchell almost reprised the run of Catherine Freeman 20 years ago when she was similarly handicapped but managed to fly home to the line to win. Freeman, however, ran off scratch and recorded a quicker time.

"Let's Go While We're Young"



2015 Stawell Gift winners Murray Goodwin & Grace O'Dwyer

Grace O'Dwyer wins Stawell Women's Gift 2015

Mail Times
April 6, 2015.

BALLARAT'S Grace O'Dwyer has won the Stawell Women's Gift - and an increased prizemoney of $40,000.

It was the 15-year-old's first attempt at the event.

She won with a time of 13.40 seconds, running off 10.25 metres.

O'Dwyer started as the pre-gift favourite on Saturday.

She nearly failed to qualify for the final after running second in her heat.

She made it through as one of the two fastest losers, along with Ararat teenager Sarah Blizzard.

O'Dwyer was in tears after the win and said she couldn't believe what had happened.

"It means so much and I have been working for so long for this," she said.

I was so nervous and after the semi when I thought I didn't make it I was so disappointed.

"The race was just a blur, I couldn't even remember it."

Blizzard, running off 9.5 metres, started the backmarker for the event and finished last.

It was the second year in a row she contested the women's gift final.

This year, prizemoney was changed to equal the men's prize pool.

O'Dwyer earned $40,000 for winning the women's final.

Last year's winner Holly Dobbyn received only $4000.

Last edited by youngy on Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:19 am; edited 1 time in total

"Let's Go While We're Young"



Ballarat's Grace O'Dwyer wins richest Stawell Women's Gift

Melanie Whelan
The Ballarat Courier
April 6, 2015

GRACE O’Dwyer has achieved what her father has chased for almost 30 years – a Stawell Gift sash in a marquee race.

The 15-year-old has staked her place in the iconic Easter event’s history as the first female to win the Stawell Women’s Gift on equal prize footing with the men.

And her immediate reaction was “no idea” when asked what she would do with $40,000.

Victory means more than the money.

Her father and coach Peter O’Dwyer, a multiple Stawell finalist, reached the semi-finals 28 years after racing his first Stawell Gift.

He was so proud.

Peter O’Dwyer trained 2012 Stawell Gift winner Matt Wiltshire and last year’s Women’s Gift winner Holly Dobbyn. Wiltshire and Dobbyn were both emotional amid shocked and jubilant POD Squad celebrations.

Grace O’Dwyer thanked her dad for everything he had done when accepting her sash and kept looking to her mum Barb and sister Kathryn in near disbelief.

O’Dwyer arrived at Central Park a pre-race favourite, reinforced with a clear heat win, and told The Courier on Saturday she had blocked out the hype.

She advanced to the semi-finals as one of two fastest qualifiers.

O’Dwyer had been building to this moment all season in the Victorian Athletic League.

A consistent finalist and place-getter, including Ballarat’s Women’s Gift, this was O’Dwyer’s stunning breakthrough win.

“I’ve done everything right, every step of the way,” she said.

“I did everything to prepare for this.

“I re-composed myself after the semi and gave all I had got in the final.”

O’Dwyer raced off the 10.25-metre mark and hunted down Caitlin Hawks (12m), Keely Henderson (13.75m) and runner-up Anna Pasquali (14m), while holding off Sarah Blizzard (9.5m) and Lynette Viney (9.75m).

She clocked a winning time of 13.40 seconds.

"Let's Go While We're Young"

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