Ipswich sprinter Johnathon Taylor is a top hope for Sunday’s annual Ipswich Lightning Gift at Bill Paterson Oval.
IN 26 years the Lightning Gift has been run at Limestone Park, no Ipswich club runner has won the major handicap event.
That could change at Bill Paterson Oval on Sunday night.
The Ipswich and District Athletic Club has a dedicated group of sprinters lining up in the $3000 Lightning Gift for men and women, and the $3000 Ipswich Ladies Gift.
Both races are over 120m, starting with heats from 1.30pm at the twilight competition.
Ipswich club president Vic Pascoe is delighted to see so many locally-based athletes entering the big races on the program at the 35th Ipswich Winter Carnival.
“It’s quite surprised me to see them all having a go,” Pascoe said.
“We have not had an Ipswich person win the men’s Lightning Gift yet.”
The latest Ipswich club contingent challenging for honours includes Scott Tuohy, Lorenz Ryan, Nicholas Grant and Daniel Qualischefski.
Michael Berlin is also entered with his daughter Erika contesting the Ladies Gift.
Other Ipswich club runners in the Ladies Gift include Larissa Chambers, Elizabeth Melrose, Tara Chaplin and Hayley Wright.
With last year’s winners Daniel Mowen and Nicole Kay not returning to defend their titles, Pascoe hopes to see Ipswich club runners feature in the finals, especially after rain freshened up the surface.
“It’s quite good,” Pascoe said, having surveyed the Bill Paterson Oval main straight.
“We’ll run the mower over it tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon just to shave off that top layer so it will be a good, fast grass track.”
Former club sprinter and Tivoli-based international runner Johnathon Taylor is one of the favourites, having finished second last year.
Now training at the University of Queensland club, Taylor was a medallist at last year’s Oceania championships and represented Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa.
However, handicapping often makes the Gift racing exciting and unpredictable.
“I reckon the handicapper has done pretty good,” Pascoe said.
Competition starts at 1pm on Sunday with the first of the track and field events.
Athletes can still nominate for the non-Gift races an hour before Sunday’s events.
Runners in the 27th Lightning Gift (first three advance to the semi-finals, handicap in brackets):
Heat 1: Red Ben Hayward (4.00), White Edward Langley (7.50), Blue Daniel Qualischefski (8.00), Yellow Hamish Macintosh (9.00), Green Scott Tuohy (10.25), Pink Nikki Venardos (19.00).
Heat 2: Red Johnathon Taylor (7.00), White Sam Toleman (8.00), Blue Lorenz Ryan (8.50), Yellow Leslie Snuderl (9.25), Green Michael Berlin (15.50), Pink Emma Yates (20.00).
Heat 3: Red Taylor Burns (6.75), White Jin Yoshikawa (7.50), Blue Ardyn Foy (8.50), Yellow Nicholas Grant (9.25), Green Dominic Treherne (9.50).
Heat 4: Red Mitch Williams (1.25), White Shemaiah James (7.75), Blue Travis Iles (8.00), Yellow Nicholas Finlay (8.50), Green Michelle Mackey (20.00).
Ipswich Ladies Gift (first four advance to semi-finals, handicap in brackets):
Heat 1: Red Katie Colebourne (6.50), White Jamila Winter (10.50), Blue Tara Chaplin (11.00), Yellow Erika Berlin (12.50), Green Gemma Fairclough (14.50).
Heat 2: Red Larissa Chambers (4.50), White Emma Yates (11.00), Blue Demi Wynyard (11.00), Yellow Annie McGuire (12.00), Green Elizabeth Melrose (15.50).
Heat 3: Red Nikki Venardos (7.50), White Hayley Wright (11.50), Blue Natalie Bennison (12.00), Yellow Michelle Mackey (12.50), Green Emma Rosentreter (13.00).