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PROTRACK » GENERAL » NSW Bay gift 2017

NSW Bay gift 2017

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1 NSW Bay gift 2017 on Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:29 pm

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NSW oldest footrace is renamed the Bay Gift in a nod to its historic roots

March 17, 2017 9:35am
Rebecca Franks

New South Wales's oldest footrace has gone back to its roots by being renamed the Bay Gift and will be held at Hensley Athletic Field rather than its historical home at Botany’s Sir Joseph Banks Park.

Bill Edwards, president of the NSW Athletic League, said he had four weeks to organise the 133-year-old event ‒ formerly known as the Botany Bay Gift ‒ and seek sponsors.

He had lodged four grant applications for this year’s race on Sunday, April 2 and was hoping to secure between $5000 and $10,000 in prize money.

While the Bay Gift would be held on a smaller scale this year, Mr Edwards was hopeful the race that once boasted a prize purse of $200,000 would be returned to its former glory in 2018.

“The Botany Bay Gift will be known as the Bay Gift,” Mr Edwards said. “We are looking back at history but we want to create history.

“While it will be at Hensley Athletic Field this year, not its traditional home, it is a stepping stone for 2018 and I have not given up on that.

“I love Sir Joseph Banks Park, you go there and it smells of history.

“That’s what this event is really about.”

Mr Edwards said the proprietor of the Sir Joseph Banks Hotel set out in 1860 to develop the grounds as the leading sports centre in Sydney and ‒ under the ownership of Frank Smith ‒ the first Bay Gift was held on May 10, 1884.

Prizemoney for the winner of the 100 yard (91 metre) race was the princely sum of ten pounds.

Over its history, the race has attracted some of the world’s best runners including British athlete Lynford Christie, American track and field sprinter Maurice Greene and Olympic gold medallists Cathy Freeman and Nova Peris.

However, the race fell on hard times but was revived in 2016 with the help of Meriton’s chief executive Harry Triguboff, South Sydney Juniors, MGM Properties, Kelloggs and Sir Joseph Banks Hotel.

The event, supported by Bayside Council, was due to be held on Australia Day and then in March but after a fallout between NSWAL and NSW Professional Track League ‒ who had jointly hosted the event for the last two years ‒ it was postponed.

Mr Edwards said the NSWAL, a not for profit organisation, would be holding two junior mixed events for athletes aged nine to 13 and 14 to 16 working with the Little Athletics Association and would introduce the handicap format.

“The Bay Gift is considered by runners, trainers and officials throughout Australia as the jewel in the crown of NSW athletics,” he said.

“There will not be international competitors this year but the resurgence of this event is of national athletic interest.”

(It has been confirmed that total prize money this year will be $10000.00)

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