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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Toea Wisil is early favourite for the Stawell Gift

Toea Wisil is early favourite for the Stawell Gift

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Australian 100m and 200m champion Toea Wisil. Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Queen of the South Pacific Toea Wisil is early favourite for the annual Stawell Gift

By Terry Wilson
Gold Coast Bulletin
April 12, 2017

GOLD Coast coach Tony Fairweather has applied the polish to four winners of Australia’s most prestige professional foot race the Stawell Gift.

So he knows exactly what is required to land the $40,000 first prizemoney – and he says Papua New Guinea flyer Toea Wisil can win the 120m scamper on Monday.

Wisil, who won the 100m-200m double at the Australian championships, has been installed favourite to take the women’s race despite her being given a scratch handicap.

“Toea has to be a good chance,” Fairweather said, pointing to a reduction in maximum handicap as likely to work in her favour.

“The limit has been brought back from 14 metres to 11 metres and that has to help.

“It is her first run at Stawell but her form at the nationals was outstanding.

“She beat Australia’s No.1 ranked sprinter Melissa Breen in the 100m final, then she beat the national No.1 ranked 200m runner Ella Nelson in the 200m final.”

Breen has been given a .25m handicap for the Gift and will be hot on Wisil’s heels.

Fairweather, who coaches at Somerset College, prepared his wife Alison to win the women’s Gift in 2005 and Trivia Greaves won it in 2009.

Fairweather also prepared Josh Ross for his wins in 2005 and 2009.

“I know what is required,” Fairweather said.

“I won the 400m backmarkers myself and I’ve had other runners win in 400m and 70m.

“Toea is ready for the world stage and her technique has changed a lot since she ran at the Rio Olympics.

“I believe that she can go top three in the Commonwealth Games next year.”

Wisil has been with Fairweather for 18 months and is generally regarded as the Queen of the South Pacific after she emerged from Banz in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Now 29, Wisil has a staggering record at Pacific Rim level.

In Pacific Games she has won 11 gold medals, two silvers and three bronzes.

In the South Pacific Mini Games she has five golds, three silvers and three bronzes; and in Oceania Championships the count is 12 golds, five silvers and two bronzes. Wisil has represented Papua New Guinea at both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

She exited the 100m in the heats both times although Fairweather believes his charge is starting to hit her straps. The Stawell Gift starts with heats on Saturday with the $40,000 finals on Monday afternoon.

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