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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Coach Robbo finally tastes Stawell success

Coach Robbo finally tastes Stawell success

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1 Coach Robbo finally tastes Stawell success on Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:23 am

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http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8241335

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Mitchell Williams poses with the trophy and support crew (from left) Sam Dick, Alee Whiteman, Ryan Schmidt and coach Brett Robinson after winning the 2011 Australia Post Stawell Gift in front of the historic grandstand at Central Park. Picture: Stephen Harman

Robinson tastes ultimate Gift success
By John Salvado
WWOS.ninmsn.com
16:32 AEST Tue Apr 26 2011


It's hard to imagine a tougher Stawell Gift initiation than the one which confronted Brett Robinson back in 1999.

The Queenslander's opponents in his heat included 1992 Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie and eventual winner Rod Mathews.

Predictably, Robinson was eliminated in the first round.

But far from being disillusioned, Robinson was bitten hard by the Stawell Gift bug.

He has been returning to the western Victorian town for the last 13 years, with a best finish of second to Adrian Mott in the 2006 final.

And now, as coach of Mitch Williams, he has finally tasted the ultimate success.

"I remember my first heat down here, I drew Linford Christie and Rod Matthews, so I got my arse handed to me that day," Robinson said on Tuesday.

"But I remember standing over next to the stand and saying 'I'll win this Gift one day'.

"It nearly came true but this is probably better.

"Standing over there with all the other trainers I think I was going to vomit.

"It was much easier being an athlete and in control of the situation than being a coach where you are just a spectator for that last hour or so."

Williams became the latest in a long line of beach sprinters to perform above expectations on the famous grass track at Central Park.

Although the track was already soft, Robinson was praying in vain for more rain over the weekend.

"I knew he could run with everyone here and I was just hoping the track was going to be a bit slow - we knew he'd do well," said Robinson.

"He was at $26 on Friday night and I didn't put any money on then.

"I have been in the situation where you've been backed into ridiculous odds and I just let it roll into Saturday morning and right before the heat I put some on him."

It proved to be money well spent for a man who loves Stawell.

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http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/mitchell-williams-pushed-through-the-pain-barrier-to-win-stawell-gift/story-e6frg7mf-1226045245379

Mitchell Williams pushed through the pain barrier to win Stawell Gift
By Stuart Rintoul
The Australian
April 27, 2011

AS he crashed through the line to win the 130th Stawell Gift, his right hamstring torn, propelled at that moment only by momentum and what was left of his conviction, Mitchell Williams fell and smashed the ground with his fists.

Did he know he had done it, he was asked.

"Oh, I knew I'd pulled my hamstring by then," the Queensland beach sprinter said, not quite understanding the question, but knowing exactly how much his leg was hurting.

"The hamstring went in the last 5-10 metres. I just tried to push through."

Asked how he would celebrate, he replied: "Plenty of piss and ice."

Williams, 19, took the race and the $40,000 that went with it in 12.19 seconds. His torn hamstring cost him a fraction of a second and almost the race as he ran down front marker Edward Ware, who said good-naturedly, "Congrats to Willo, it's just a shame he didn't do his hammy 10 metres from the line".

Indeed. Williams won by 0.01 of a second from Ware. Had it torn any sooner, he would not have won a race that defies time and fashion.

Stawell is the great anachronism of Australia's crowded sporting calendar, a 120-metre sprint on grass in a Victorian country town watched live by only a few thousand people and a clutch of nervous bookmakers.

The hush before the race seems to come from another time altogether.

Among those celebrating Williams' win was his coach Brett Robinson, who ran the Gift twice without winning, running second to Adrian Mott in 2006.

After the race, a jubilant Robinson said: "I finally found a way to win a Stawell Gift."

He said the race was in his DNA.


Robinson said Williams knocked on his door in early January. He discovered quickly that Williams was very fit and his hamstring was "rubbish". He said getting Williams to and through the Gift had been a nightmare over the past 12 weeks.

When Williams said he felt a twinge in the semi-finals, he had held his breath.

But as he limped up on to the podium to raise his trophy, Williams paid tribute to Robinson, former coach, Olympian Glynis Nunn-Cearns, and his mother.

She has been ill with cancer but now has a Stawell Gift winner for a son.

This year was the first in seven that the race had attracted a big-name international, former 100m world champion Kim Collins from the Caribbean nation of St Kitts & Nevis, who found the going too hard from scratch and was eliminated in his semi-final.

It was also the first time the race had been shifted away from Easter Monday, to accommodate Anzac Day. It was the same race on another day in a long history.

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