HISTORIC: Jacob Despard is all smiles after winning the 2018 Stawell Gift on Monday, ahead of Gary Finegan and 2017 winner Matthew Rizzo. Picture: Samantha CamarriA move from Tasmania to Victoria hasled Jacob Despard to victory in the 2018 Stawell Gift on Monday.
The 21-year-old held off Hamish Adams and Gary Finegan to claim the title at Central Park with a change of environment re-focusing the six-time Stawell Gift competitor.
Despard said it was a smooth preparation leading into the final.
“I was really confident after the heat which made the Sunday a little easier, in the semi-final I still got the quickest time but only just and I knew I had a bit extra for the final,” he said.
The temporary fencing contractor ran off 4.25m to win the historictitlein a time of 12.12 seconds asjoint backmarker alongside 2017 Stawell Gift winner Matthew Rizzo.
Despard lives withn Commonwealth Games athlete Jack Hale and said heused him as an inspiration on how to approach hispreparation for the event.
“We went to the same high school in Tasmania, there was a bit of a rivalry there and we have grown to be good mates,” he said.
“As soon as I moved over from Tasmania, I moved in with him and copied what he does, the way he goes about what he does and how he prepares.
“Seeing how he prepares and what he gets to do has made me hungry to try to make an n team again.”
The move to Victoria showed the commitment required to achieve success with the 2018 Stawell Gift winner giving up takeaway food in the six months prior to the race.
Coach Scott Rowsell said it was a credit to him for the way he approached his preparation for the Stawell Gift.
“It is awesome, when you put in a plan six months ago and so much has to go right, it is such a buzz right now,” he said.
“To be able to focus and improve the way he has since November has been great.
“We just believe in the process, he ran the same race three times over and over again because we knew he would be quick enough to do that.”
Rowsell has a strong track record as trainer and saidthe win the start of bigger things to come for Despard.
“It is such a great environment for him to take himself to the next level,” he said.
“He could definitely achieve that next level and run in the green and gold.”
Despard said he hopes the move continues to pay off.
“I think just the overall preparation was different this time, we spoke six months ago and we said no stone unturned.
“Living with Jack has made me hungry to achieve bigger things.”Ballarat’s Mason Keast qualified for the final and finished fifth off 9.75.