Limestone Coast athletes starred in Saturday’s running of the Mount Gambier Gift carnival at Vansittart Park.
Runners from across SA and Victoria converged on the park’s oval, with Mount Gambier’s Kyla Gordon winning the 120m Little Athletics race and local Finn McEachern winning the 800m
Mount Gambier athlete Leila Croker finished second in the women’s 120m Gift, with Hayden Crowe finishing third in the 400m men’s race.
Croker finished behind Tayla Philis, with Mikayla Round desperately close behind in third.
In the men’s race, after some fast heats Max Underwood crossed the line first with a time of 12.437 seconds, followed by Ben Larsson in 12.443 and Hayden Rothe in 12.479.
The day started with the heats of the 120 metre Little Athletics race, with competitors coming from a number of the region’s clubs including Mount Gambier, Penola, Bordertown, Millicent and from Portland.
There were more than 40 children competing throughout the day from 6- to 16-year-olds running in the heats and finals of the two Community Little Athletics Races sponsored by Key 2 Sale Real Estate.
Gordon took out the 120m event followed by Reece Barrett and Isla Stuckey.
The 800m was a sprint to the finish by McEachern, followed by Alejandro Jagger and Kobi Campbell from Portland Little Athletic Club.
The pro running races featured close finishes, requiring officials to consult with the finish line photos to determine the winners.
Mount Gambier Gift Event Manager Natasha Little said the meet provided a day of exciting results.
“Iit has been a wonderful day and the success of all the runners has been amazing, with some fantastic running by some of our own local athletes,” she said.
“Not to forget the Mount Gambier Gift had two outstanding runners attending, Olympic and Commonwealth Games runner Izzi Batt-Doyle and state marathon record holder Riley Cocks down from Adelaide.
“Izzi and Riley came down for the weekend providing Mount Gambier Little Athletics with a training session on Friday night.
“With Izzi competing in the 1600m and 3200m race and Riley competing in the 3200m as well they created a lot of excitement around the oval.
“It gave the other runners an opportunity to chat and then compete against them, being amongst the top runners in Australia.”
The duo also backed up running at the Mount Gambier Gift by participating in the inaugural half marathon on Sunday at the Blue Lake Fun Run, with Cocks finishing first and Batt-Doyle third, as well as also being the first female to finish the half marathon.
Little said Saturday’s excitement spilled over from the track, with a momentous occasion taking place during presentations.
“The day was coming to an end with the final races being held … but the excitement was not over with the 3200m race run and presentations under way, as second placegetter Terence Carter was being interviewed he proposed to his girlfriend, then jumped down off the podium and on bended knee presented his grandmother’s wedding ring to Paige Bateman,” she said.
“The answer was yes! What a way to finish off another Mount Gambier Gift.
“It will be hard to upstage a marriage proposal next year when the Mount Gambier Gift comes back, but discussions have already started between the City of Mount Gambier and the South Australian Athletic League on further improvements and increasing participation for the 2023 and beyond Mount Gambier Gifts.”
Visit www.saal.org.au for full race results or the Mount Gambier Gift Facebook page to see all the photos, videos and results from Saturday.