KEEN TO COMPETE: Preparing for tomorrow’s Ipswich Winter Carnival are club athletes Madison Wells, Matthew Learoyd, Gracie Vanzella, Ashleigh Caporn, Charlize Goody, Mickeelie Johnson, Mikaela Doneley, Kiara Condon, Seb Sills and Monique Williams.
ATHLETICS: A gun field of sprinters, including national champions and top Stawell Gift performers, will battle for honours at Sunday’s 38th Ipswich Winter Carnival at Bill Paterson Oval.
“It would be the best numbers in the Lightning Gift for at least 10 years,” Ipswich official Vic Pascoe said of the 37 contenders.
“There’s some very good runners.”
The $4000 120m Lightning Gift is one of three handicap races.
The original sprint program had to be changed to accommodate the increased interest this year.
The Lightning Gift final is at 3.25pm, following the 120m Ladies Gift final at 3.05pm and the 120m Jeff Jones Backmarkers Consolation final at 2.45pm.
Leading Lightning Gift hopes include Aaron Stubbs, Gary Finegan, Kerry Ryan, Ted Belcher, Shemaiah James, Sam McArthur and Matthew Learoyd.
Stubbs, in heat 1, is a former 120m Stawell Gift winner.
Finegan (heat 2), was a 120m Stawell Gift finalist in 2018 and came second second in the 2018 120m Ipswich Lightning Gift. He has run the 100m in 10.68 seconds this year.
Ryan (heat 2) is an Ipswich club member running fast times in his final year at St Edmund’s College.
Belcher (heat 3) won the 120m and 300m events at the 2018 Pittsworth Gift carnival.
Long jumper James (heat 5) was placed in Ipswich’s 120m Backmarkers Gift in 2016.
McArthur (heat 6) could be an improver having come fourth in the 2017 Ipswich Gift.
Learody (heat 6) is an experienced runner who has been training well.
“It’s an excellent event,” Pascoe said, delighted with the response.
“It’s got a lot of history. Now 30 years of it for the actual Lightning Gift.”
2018 Ipswich Lightning Gift winner Jordan Spry (middle) with Ipswich Hospital Foundation CEO Phil Bell and other runners Gary Finegan, Fejiro Omuvwie and Nicky Jones at Bill Paterson Oval.
Runners in the 120m Ladies Gift are also chasing $4000 in prizemoney.
The Ladies Gift field has attracted one of Australia’s fastest teenagers Hilal Durmaz, a former Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School student. The future Olympic prospect is backmarker in the first heat.
Other strong contenders include 400m specialist Ashleigh Jones, Hayley Reynolds, Erin Wright, Larissa Chambers, Kirra Csurhes and Annie McGuire.
Jones (heat 2) is a highly regarded 200m and 400m runner with pace to burn.
Reynolds (heat 3) was second to Durmaz in the 2017 70m Gift. She meets her 1.50m better off under the handicap conditions.
Ipswich club achiever Wright (heat 3) is Australia’s number three ranked hurdler for 15 years.
Chambers (heat 4) is returning to form after winning the 120m Ladies Gift in 2016.
Csurhes (heat 4) won the silver medal representing Australia in the U/20 100m hurdles at this year’s Oceania Championships.
Multi-talented speedster McGuire (heat 5) has also represented Australia.
Last year’s Gift winner Sarah Carroll (heat 4) is back.
Tight racing is always expected in the annual Ipswich Lightning Gift handicap event at Bill Paterson Oval.
Pascoe said having so many Ipswich club runners compete against Stawell Gift athletes was a positive.
“I believe that if every one of them decided to go down there (Stawell), they’d be competitive,” Pascoe said.
“They’ve got to get in front of a handicapper to show that they are consistent in their performances.”
A strong contingent of Ipswich and District Athletic Club runners are contesting a range of events at Sunday’s annual carnival.
Madison Wells, 17, is competing in the Ladies Gift and the 70m dash.
Gracie Vanzella, 13, and Ashleigh Caporn, 14, will be competing in the 70m Dash for girls 12-17 years.
Learoyd, 38, has nominated in the Masters events as well as the Lightning Gift.
Charlize Goody is lining up in the jumps and throwing disciplines.
Mickeelie Johnson, 14, and Mikaela Doneley, 13, will be competing in the 70m Dash. Mikaela is also contesting the high jump.
Kiara Condon, 15, will be competing in the high jump, shot put and discus.
Seb Sills, 11, will be in the shot put and discus.
Monique Williams, 12, has registered for the 70m Dash. Monique is the current Queensland school champion for 12 years in the combined events which consists of 800m, long jump, shot put and 100m.
This weekend’s winter carnival is backed my major sponsors Ipswich Hospital Foundation, USQ Ipswich, Spine Street Studios and Leisure Riders Touring Motorcycle Club.
Berise Jones, wife of former club life member Geoff, has continued the family’s support by providing prizemoney for the Backmarkers Consolation Gift final.
Events at Sunday’s 38th Ipswich Winter Carnival start at 9.30am with the 1500m in all ages.
After the field events all morning, the focus moves to the sprint events.
The three major finals are at 2.45pm (Backmarkers Consolation), 3.05pm (Ladies Gift) and 3.25pm (Lightning Gift).