Tasmanian Jacob Despard has won the iconic Stawell Gift, taking home $60,000 in prize money.Tasmanian Jacob Despard has attributed a move to Victoria as a driving force behind his Stawell Gift win.
Despard produced a blistering surge in the final of the iconic race at Central Park on Monday to claim victory in an adjusted time of 12.12 seconds over 120m.
Starting the final as favourite and backmarker off a 4.5m handicap, the 21-year-old’s time was the fastest of the meet as he beat home Hamish Adams (9.5m) and Gary Finegan (5.25m).
Despard, who collected $40,000 in prize money, said the relocation to Melbourne – where he lives with fellow Tasmanian sprinter and Gold Coast Commonwealth Games competitor Jake Hale – played a big part in him taking out ‘s richest footrace.
He said life in Tasmania had become a little too comfortable, prompting the move to the mainland where he’s adopted a much healthier diet and lifestyle.
“I’m healthier all around,” said Despard.
Despard knows what it is like to wear the green and gold, having represented in an under-20 relay team at the junior world championships four years ago.
In the meantime, Despard wants to trim back his hours in temporary fencing construction to devote more time to training.
Defending champion Matt Rizzo qualified for the final but finished fourth.
Queensland beach sprinter Elizabeth Forsyth (7m) won the Stawell Women’s Gift, clocking 13.69 seconds to get the better of Pam Austin (10.5m) and Stephanie Jinks (11m).
Forsyth had to work hard to not only adjust from the sand to grass, but also handicap conditions.
But following her first visit to Stawell last year, the 21-year-old came through with the goods despite struggling in the build-up with a knee injury.