Hastings Gift hits the ground running

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Out of nowhere: Previously unknown sprinter Dhruv Rodrigues-Chico stormed home to win the 120 metre Men’s Gift final. Picture: Supplied

ATHLETES from across the country descended upon the Thomas Barclay Oval, Hastings in hopes of claiming the inaugural running of the Hastings Gift on Saturday 17 November.

With $8,000 up for grabs in the 120-metre men’s and women’s feature events, the Hastings Gift was bound to attract plenty of attention.

But it was the local Mornington Peninsula-based sprinting team, Pride Performance, who came to the fore in the 120m Women’s Gift as Sophia Fighera took out the first edition of the Women’s Hastings Gift.

Fighera (5.00 handicap) finished ahead of Cara Boustead (10.00) and Commonwealth Games competitor Maddie Coates (-2.00) in the women’s final.

That victory gave Fighera her second Gift win in the past two years having also won the St Alban’s Gift in 2017.

In the men’s feature event, it was the previously unknown Dhruv Rodrigues-Chico (6.00 handicap) who claimed gold in the Gift final, ahead of Fegiro omuvuie (5.00) and Tim Rosen (14.00). To add to the already impressive feat, it was Dhruv’s first time competing in a Victorian League competition.

Hastings Gift race analyst Brosnan Kelly said it was a fantastic achievement for both Gift winners.

“To win the Gift against the calibre of athletes that competed at your first go is pretty impressive – it’s really unheard of,” Brosnan said.

“Sophia ran exceptionally well. It’s her first year with Pride Performance and she’s had a great year as she also made the Stawell Gift semi-final earlier this year as well.”

Further winners from the inaugural Hastings Gift included: 70m Open: Hanna Basic (9.25); 70M Restricted: Rachel O’Brien (14.25); 120m under-14 Mixed: Harry O’Farrell (15.0); 120m under-18 Boys: Eugene Read-spinks (19.50); 120m under-18 Girls: Fin Fawcett (26.25); 120m Masters: Steven Coulson (15.75); 300m Open: Mohamad Zeed (26.00); 300m Womens & Masters: Zoe Nicholson (54.00); 800m Open: Ky Davies (50.00); and 1600m Open: Joel Donnar (100.00).

Overall, Brosnan Kelly said the feedback from all the competitors was very positive.

“They all said they’ll be back next year which is massive because if there’s no athletes, there’s no Gift,” he said.

“I thought the standard of athletes was very good. To have multiple Stawell Gift winners and Commonwealth Games competitors in the inaugural running of the Hastings Gift was brilliant.

“The winners said it felt prestigious, so it will be more about keeping the atmosphere going and hopefully the Gift can continue to get better as the years go on.

“I’m pretty proud of how the inaugural event went and I think it’s a great starting point to build off.”

Similarly, Hastings Gift president Terry Kelly said the first running of the Gift was certainly a success but the support that they received throughout the process was a massive help.

“Being the first one, you don’t really know what to expect, but all the athletes that came said that they were happy with the facilities and the support we had throughout the process was absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“We had enormous support from the council and local traders, and the Hastings Cricket Club was incredibly helpful as well as they gave us their field for the day and took time away from their own competition.”

Whether we see the Gift again next year, Terry Kelly said he “sees no reason why not”.

“It’s a lot of work and you learn a lot, but the intention is to make it an annual event alongside the Rye Gift and put two great Gifts from the Peninsula onto the calendar.”

The Rye Gift and Family Fun Day will be held on the second Saturday of January, 2019.

First published in the Frankston Times – 26 November 2018

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