Merimbula Gift grows as sprinters make dash

A gifted runner: Merimbula Gift winner Michael Hanna is congratulated by committee president Ian Lloyd after taking out the 120-metre main event in 12.62 seconds. Picture: courtesy Helen Rushton

A gifted runner: Merimbula Gift winner Michael Hanna is congratulated by committee president Ian Lloyd after taking out the 120-metre main event in 12.62 seconds. Picture: courtesy Helen Rushton

Sixteen year old Michael Hanna was the standout performer in the second ever Merimbula Gift.  

Held at the Berrambool Oval on Saturday and running into a strong headwind, Hanna produced a blistering finish to narrowly take out the top prize of $2500 in the good time of 12.62 seconds. 

Sydney-based Hanna was also successful in the under 18s 120 metre event, rounding out a very good day.

President of the Merimbula Gift committee, Ian Lloyd, said Hanna had been in great form recently, winning the Macksville Gift in November and the Hensley Christmas Gift. 

“Michael Hanna is clearly an athlete to keep an eye on as he progresses through his running career,” Lloyd said.

Local junior Lawrence Davis acquitted himself well in making the finals of both the Under 18 and the Gift.

However, as the back-marker in both races Davis had too much ground to make up against the hot competition.

The 70 metre Open final was taken out by Courtney Leary from Canberra in 7.49 seconds.

“Courtney was the only lady to make the final and was elated with her win over the boys,” Lloyd said.

The day’s longer events also produced some excellent racing.

Justin Richardson was successful in the 300 metres and Derek Collinge won the 800 metres.

The Sapphire Coast runners rounded out an excellent day of racing with the 3km event. James Atkinson was the first male home in 10 mimutes 10 seconds while Stephanie Auston took out the female race in 11 minutes 34 seconds.

Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Kristy McBain opened proceedings and said council looked forward to the Gift continuing.

Mr Lloyd said a highlight of the day was the drive past by a wonderful collection of vintage cars, including a restoration project by students at Eden Marine High on what had been a total wreck.

”The support of the Sapphire Coast Historic Vehicle Club, Sapphire Coast runners group, Rotary, Lions, the Grasshoppers Soccer and Diggers AFL clubs, Marine Rescue, the CWA, Bega Valley Council and our many sponsors is building a strong local community foundation for the Merimbula Gift,” Lloyd said.

Mr Lloyd said more than 70 businesses had supported this year’s gift event and already it had grown to become the second richest professional running event in New South Wales. 

Following continued success after a great outing on Saturday, Mr Lloyd expects the trend to continue with big plans for next year. 

“It’s a great addition to the Sapphire Coast sports calendar and we expect to be back even bigger and better next year,” he said.