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PROTRACK » GENERAL » The heartbreak of the Stawell Gift

The heartbreak of the Stawell Gift

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1 Re: The heartbreak of the Stawell Gift on Mon Apr 10, 2017 4:56 am


Fantastic stuff John - hope its part of a book - you must have a thousand stories revolving in a uniquely Australian facet of Athletics - you have to feel for Billy Todd & Emu

POD O'Dwyer is another unlucky Stawell loser who has put his life back into the game

Originally from sheep country WA - he was the first sprinter I ever worked with as my background was as a Field event coach - he came down to the South oval at Curtin University asking if I would coach him - he unobtrusively said he won the ACC Open 100 in about 11 sec - after telling him the only running we do is a Starts Session once a week & as he sounded like he had ability I told him to train with Frank Day at Perry Lakes

POD or Crock as we called him (always had the smile a girls mother would love but below the surface there was a real bite) anyway he wasn't fussed about Amo's saying his dream had always been to Win a Stawell Gift & he planned to do some track running but mainly play bush footy & eventually head to pro running Mecca's at Easter

He seemed to thrive on our weight training & won State Junior Champs in 10.9sec in the West so I talked him into running another season before doing Pro's as the following year was to be Open entries & Amateurs were technically dead, His first shot at Stawell was pretty ordinary due to a short mark - because of his Junior Champ win - The next year he was becoming quite strong in the Gym & on the track & won his first open Champs but only in 10.76 - for some reason he was given a lift to 6m for Stawell

I knew nothing of Stawell so we asked WCAL Handicapper Marty McDonnell how he thought POD would go off 6m - Marty was a VFL & WAFL footy legend - ran the WA Footy show & was Publican at the Cottesloe Hotel - real old school - he used to run Pro's every year to get fit for footy & knew the game inside out

Marty organised a trial on Mcgilvray oval WA's best grass track & clocked POD at 11.8 sec - Marty just lit up - said thats a dead set Stawell Gift winning trial

''Boys, I cant say he's a certainty but it will take a hell of a run to beat him''

So we marched into Stawell - Marty came with the boys & hit the Drill Hall with everything we had - POD was $100 everywhere so in about 15 min we had backed him to win $100k - we noticed a nuggety old boy following & picking off anyone who left $10 on their board so in half an hour he went from 100's to Evens

Pretty sure that was JH following Wayne & Marty around

Anyway next day tragedy struck after winning his heat by a sizable margin POD was called into the stewards & pulled 2m for Monday - he ran a good race in the Final -
finishing 4th pretty much exactly 2m off Scott Antonic

It was absolutely devastating for POD - his Dream shattered - no $100k payout & while he's enjoyed a tremendous career he had to wait a generation before the
O'Dwyer name was added to the Stawell Gift winners list - all be it the women's gift won by daughter Grace

But like JH says a tantalising close loss can kindle a lifetime of commitment to the sport - Todd as a board member Emu with his big gift planned for next year POD with his fantastic program at Ballarat

The Paradox of this story is that POD was the one to draw me into adding Sprints to our program - the same year as his 1st uneventful trip to Stawell he came down to training asking if he could bring a skinny 16y/old footy kid down from his old school - he needed to build up a bit - said the kid had great skills but you could slde him through a Cheezel - POD said you have to at least look at him - he could be something special & he could run a bit as well

The kid was Dean Capobianco - in the end POD's lifelong anguishing loss lead directly to Capo's amazing Stawell Bay Sheff & Burnie Gift winning year - Burnie on a still day in 11.9 off the peg & still only 19

Todd & Tim's loss was unlucky but POD's own gut wrenching defeat sparked the fire that stole the boys 1990 dream

True Kharma

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