Dhruv Rodrigues Chico said sacrificing partying to take up serious running was worth it after winning the 2019 Stawell Gift on Monday.
The 20-year-old dominated all weekend, lighting up Central Park with the fastest heat of 11.91 seconds on Saturday and continuing that form into Monday.
Indian-born Rodrigues Chico was given the sometimes unenviable title of favourite following that run, but backed up his efforts with a scintillating 12.10 seconds in his semi final off the mark of seven metres.
"(In the heat) I wanted to make a statement that I was here. I was very happy with my time," Rodrigues Chico said.
"I knew anything could happen and you can tense up so I kept my cool and didn't let the favourite talk affect me. I just took it race by race."
Pre- Gift favourite Jason Bailey ran off the frontmark of 10 metres against Rodrigues Chico but could do nothing as the Melbourne-based runner stormed away to etch his name into Stawell Gift history.
The new champion said he "sacrificed a lot" to have a crack at Stawell.
"This season all my mates turned 21 - I would drive to every event so I wouldn't drink," he said.
"There were no late nights for me, I kept my sleeping rhythms the same in the lead up to the race. I didn't want to change anything last minute."
Rodrigues Chico is relatively new to the running game, with the Stawell Gift final marking the end of his first Victorian Athletic League season.
"I was a soccer player before in the NPL with South Melbourne, Dandy, Oakleigh and clubs like that," he said.
"During school I ran for Mentone Grammar and had a good time at all schools. From there I was introduced to my coach Tom Morehouse.
"He has been big for me. I look up to him all the time and give him all the credit. He understands me more than myself sometimes."
Rodrigues Chico said he lost the passion for soccer which led him to pursue running. He has had a standout first season on the athletics circuit, claiming both Hastings and Frankston Gifts.
He said it was after Hastings Stawell came on the radar.
"I gave running a go and have loved it," he said.
"I didn't know much about Stawell until Hastings. When I read about it I knew I wanted to be part of it.
"It was more about being part of the environment and the people around it. I am thrilled to take the win."
The new Gift champion said he believes he still has room to improve and could see himself take on athletics at a higher stage.
"Hopefully I have a lot more to improve on, things like my start I can work on," he said.
"I'm only a year in but I hope this cane take me somewhere. I would love to represent Australia one day."
Rodrigues Chico finished first with a time of 12.106 seconds, ahead of Leonard King, Jason Bailey, Lachlan Sheffield, Conor Loughnan, and Jara Konteh.
More to come.