SAM Baird did not know he was racing until his name was called at the Maryborough Gift yesterday.
The 16-year-old was a late entry into the novice 400 metres event, and was not notified his application was accepted until race day.
But the unexpected race paid off for Baird, who came from the back marker with a handicap of 20 metres to win the race.
“With that handicap I was just happy to make final – I didn’t think I’d win it. I’m pretty shocked,” he said. “I think tactics did play a role in my victory – I paced myself against the guy that beat me in the heat and hoped that I would still have something left in me.
“In the midst of the race, when there was still about 150 metres to go, I just decided to start kicking then and give it my all.”
Baird chased the other runners down to take over Jake Dooley in the final metres of the race, running off a handicap of 32 metres. Baird finished the 400 metres in 46.66 seconds, three one hundredths of a second faster than Dooley.
“I’d like to thank my family – my mum, dad, brother and sister and both nannas and pas.”
Trained by Peter O’Dwyer, Maryborough was Baird’s first gift event.
He plans to compete in both the Rye and Ballarat gifts this summer.