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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Brendan Matthews aiming for a 3rd consecutive final

Brendan Matthews aiming for a 3rd consecutive final

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Matthews in the running
Canberra Times
20 Apr, 2011

Brendan Matthews spends his days running around Canberra delivering packages as a courier.
And he won't get a break from running over Easter as he will be competing in the historic Stawell Gift.

The two-time finalist is out to make it three finals in a row when the heats of the Gift start on Saturday. All of this before the Kaleen teenager turns 20.

''To make the final is pretty tough and making it three times in a row would be pretty special,'' he said. ''This year again there is looking like there are going to be a fair few chances.

''It is probably going to be one of the most open Gifts seen in a long time so the main aim is to make the final and then once you are in it you have to be in it to win it, so anything can happen from there.''

Matthews has not had the best of luck in the the finals. He qualified in 2009 but was unable to race after tearing his hamstring in the semi-final.

Last year he was the backmarker of the field but couldn't capitalise on his 5.75m handicap and had to settle for sixth place.

Originally an Australian football player Matthews didn't get into athletics until he was 14 and did both until 2009.

''In 2009 I nominated for the AFL draft and decided that if nothing happened with AFL I would move into my athletics,'' he said.

From then his athletics has taken off and football has not figured in his sporting life.

Matthews has hit an unexpected hurdle with a hamstring complaint stalling his preparations.

''I've been troubled by a little bit of a hamstring injury so I've been trying to fix that up in the lead-up,'' he said. ''I'm just trying to get on top of that first and hopefully I will be fit enough to run.''

One of the thrills for Matthews racing at Stawell is the atmosphere.

''It is pretty amazing. Probably one of the biggest crowds I run in front of during the athletics year. Central Park gets packed out and it sends a buzz through you.''

Coach Matt Beckenham believes that Matthews has a love affair with the famous track.

''The thing with Brendan is that he absolutely loves Stawell ever since he first came down two years ago and he seems to find an extra gear,'' he said. ''He is very motivated to try and make another final ... and when it comes down to the semi-final it will be those that want it the most and I think that he will definitely be one of those people that will be doing everything he can to get in the final.''

Canberra-based Beckenham has 19 members of his squad going to Stawell and of his athletes labelled Matthews, last year's winner Tom Burbidge and Brendan Cole as his the best chances.

Beckenham thought 400m hurdles national champion Cole was well handicapped but believed Burbidge would struggle to defend his title.

''With the pure nature of handicap running he has been given a handicap that doesn't give him much of a chance of winning this year, but he will still be running hard,'' the coach said.

Melissa Breen will race both the women's and men's events and is just the fifth women to take on the men in the 130 editions of the Gift.

''Realistically she doesn't have much hope to do anything substantial,'' Beckenham said.

''She will be giving it her all but she will be quite competitive in the women's Gift.''

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