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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Jake wins for brother in 120m dash at Leonora Golden Gift

Jake wins for brother in 120m dash at Leonora Golden Gift

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Win in honour of brother

Josh Chiat
Kalgoorlie Miner
via The West Australian
Friday, 9 June 2017

Jake Peterson, 15, strides towards the finish line in the Leonora Golden Gift. Picture: Andy Tyndall

A 15-year-old boy’s emotional victory in the 120m sprint overshadowed the feats of Olympians and professional runners as the stand-out moment of the weekend’s Leonora Golden Gift.

Leonora local Jake Peterson’s win in the under-16s 120m sprint was about more than just the few dollars on offer for crossing the line first.

It was about honouring the memory of his older brother, the inaugural winner of the same event when the first Leonora Mile was run in 2003.

Jake’s brother took his own life earlier this year, the sixth young person in the small northern Goldfields town, 230km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, to do so since late 2015.

When he won the race, Jake broke down and was comforted by family and friends.

“All I know is he’s proud of me for doing it for him,” Jake told The Kalgoorlie Miner after the race.

“I broke down. Coming first for my first time for the Golden Gift is heartbreaking, but my brother made it through the whole thing and won the whole thing, so it’s pretty good.”

As he crossed the line, memories of the aspiring footballer’s older brother, also a footballer in Kambalda’s Leonora-based training squad, came flooding back.

“Just the memory of my brother came into my head,” he said.

“It’s just the memories of how he did it and how he was happy, and I just wish he was here.”

Jake’s performance was just one of dozens of magic moments in what Leonora Shire president Peter Craig described as a magical weekend when the northern Goldfields town was “blessed by the weather”.

Mr Craig said thousands of visitors from around the Goldfields had descended on Leonora and, with the good weather, created a highly successful Golden Gift weekend.

“It’s been an amazing weekend,” he said.

“The weather has really turned it on. It’s been a bit unfortunate in the last couple of years, but it’s been blue skies and 23C all weekend.

“The races on Saturday were a fantastic success — there would have been over 600 people at the racecourse, which would be the biggest crowd we’ve ever had.

“There’s a lot of kids’ activities, we’ve got Asian food, Moroccan food, it’s incredible for the town.

“The town is full, we’ve got a couple of thousand here for sure and everyone’s having a fantastic time.’’



Leonora teen's emotional victory in honour of brother

By Hannah Barry
Esperance Express
8 Jun 2017

The Leonora Golden Gift may have seen elite Olympic and professional athletes battling it out in the town's centre for a significant cash prize, but it was a local teen who sent the crowd wild as he blazed across the finish line.

15-year-old Jake Peterson, barefoot and brave, had claimed a convincing win in the under-16's division for the 120-metre sprint, and it seemed after months of training his efforts had finally paid off.

But as the 15-year-old was enveloped in a hug by his friends, family and mentor Rene Reddingius, it soon became clear the win meant much more to the young runner than people could imagine.

Emblazoned on his running shirt was a message: 'In loving memory of Willie Peterson'.

A talented footballer and former Golden Gift competitor, Jake's brother Willie took his own life earlier this year.

He was one of six young Aboriginal people to do so within the Goldfields-Esperance region over the course of 18 months. The feeling in the town has been described as a 'constant state of mourning.'

The Leonora Golden Gift is well known as a chance for the community to come together, and it was the local council's goal this year to bring a bit of light and happiness to a town that had been clouded in darkness for nearly two years.

Jake's coach Rene told Radio 6PR's Simon Beaumont the town was struggling to cope with one of the highest rates of Indigenous suicide in the country, and Willie's death had shaken locals to the core.

"It was a really big shock, because Willie was a big athlete, footballer and go-getter too... that funeral brought the town down. We hit rock bottom," he said.

Over the last few months, Rene had focused all his efforts on improving the feeling around Leonora. He runs community fitness groups and cycling events, and soon began mentoring Jake.

He said he believed the 15-year-old's win in honour of his brother was the most positive things the community had seen in a while.

"Jake's an athlete and a natural one. He's really good at football and has hopes of going to the AFL. He plays for the local team in Kambalda," Rene said.

"Jake's victory and his dedication was one sign of a more positive upward trend in the community."

When he crossed the finish line, Jake said he had been overcome with emotion thinking about his brother.

"I broke down," he told the Kalgoorlie Miner.

"Just the memory of my brother came into my head... it's just the memories of how he did it and how he was happy, and I just wish he was here."

Rene said the whole community had cheered on Jake, and he had no doubt Willie would be proud of his brother.

"I feel it. I think we're all feeling we can do things, we can make a positive impact on each other, reach out to each other and set a pace for the young people and make them feel that they have a place to belong to in the community, and give them a voice and empowerment," he said.

"It can break down barriers because you might be separate in your general lives, but when you're looking at a sporting event and someone representing your community, you don't give a damn about that separation for that period of time. It does break down barriers."

Willie and Jake's sister Breeane Taylor has also been crowned WA's first ever Goldfields Girl. She announced her plans to advocate for a stronger mental health program in Leonora, and to teach children more effective emotional coping strategies.

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