Liv Ryan has made history, continuing the trend of teenage winners of the Stawell Women’s Gift on Monday.
Ararat’s Sarah Blizzard reached her fourth consecutive Women’s Gift final, finishing in fifth with a time of 13.813 seconds.
Ryan finished more than half a second ahead at the line to win the 120-metre handicap event in a time of 13.74 seconds at Central Park on Monday. The 16-year-old said capturing the $40,000 winners’ prize seemed surreal.
“I am speechless,” she said.
After seeing two junior winners in the past two years, the 16-year-old took inspiration from those wins into the final.
“It made it more surreal, I thought if they can do it then why can’t I do it as well,” Ryan said.
Ryan led for most of the race after running off 11 metres to finish ahead of Bridget Powell and Maddie Coates in third.She said the start was important to get right.
“I came out quick and I just thought do not let them catch me,” she said. “I could not hear them coming but in the corner of my eye I could see the red and just held on.”
Ryan finished third in her heat but bounced back to win her semi-final in a time of 13.68 seconds to qualify for the final.
The Donvale resident and North Eastern Sports Performance athlete overcame injuries in the lead-up to Stawell with the athlete forced to spend three weeks rehabbing in a pool to prepare for the Gift.
“I did my knee doing long jump at school then I hurt my back then tore a ligament in my toe six weeks ago,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s trainer Craig Mair said it was touch and go to get up for the weekend.
“Six weeks ago, we did not think she would be here, she could not run,” Mair said. “It really only became a reality last Thursday that we were coming to Stawell to try and win the Women’s Gift. We have had the lows which makes the highs that much higher.”
Mair said it was a dream come true for himself to coach a Gift winner.
“It feels amazing, the most important thing to finish my career is to coach a Stawell Gift winner and somehow I have done it,” he said.
Ballarat university student Powell finished ahead of Maddie Coates.