Ballarat youngsters make professional running debut

TEENAGE stablemates Liam Procaccino and Stuart Aberdein make their professional running debuts at Daylesford’s “Run for the Willow” Carnival today.

Trained by Peter O’Dwyer in Ballarat, the 15-year-olds will compete in the 100-metre Daylesford Gift and the 400m at Cricket Willow.

Aberdein, from Blampied, said he was looking forward to his first Gift.

“I’m nervous. It’ll just be interesting to see how I go,” he said.

As the meet does not have novice races, Aberdein will race in the open event but plans to return to novice ranks at future meets.

“As my first senior race, it will be more of a challenge to race against older people,” he said. 

“I don’t have a great handicap either because it is my first gift.”

Aberdein has been training at least three times a week and competing in Ballarat Regional Athletic Centre inter-club shield meetings on Saturdays to prepare for his entry to professional ranks.

Procaccino admits to being on edge.

“This is my first professional race.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but it will be good to be with my friends and all the other people I train with,” Procaccino said. 

The Ballarat Grammar School student has been training every day.

“My coach (Peter O’Dwyer) took us on a boot camp in Ocean Grove where we are doing all sorts of things there,” he said. 

“We’ve been doing a lot of 200 metre uphill, sprints, and long distance for fitness. 

“I’m feel great. Peter O’Dwyer sets up a great program for us.”

Procaccino said he would not be doing anything out of the ordinary in the hours before he faces the starter.

“I’ll just make sure I eat the right food, listen to a bit of music and try and focus on race.”

Procaccino and Aberdein are already signed up for Rye on Saturday, January 12, and will compete in the Ballarat Gift.

THE SEASONED Matthew Hargreaves (4.75m) is backmarker for the Gift and will strive to emulate his brother Shaun, who took out this race in 2010. 

The Tarneit sprinter will contest the sixth of six heats.

Shaun Hargreaves from Werribee has 5.5m in heat four.

Mohamad Zeed joins Jason Baileyand Cam Dunbar on 5m after finishing third in the Burnie Gift on Tuesday.

Ballarat’s other representatives include veterans Evan King, Rod Mathews and Peter O’Dwyer, Nathan Fox, Braydon Newell, Jordan Keast and Adam Hayes.

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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