While the spotlight is on super backmarkers Joshua Ross and Jade Bailey, Ballarat is not without a chance of having a hometown hero in the Ballarat Gift and Ballarat Women’s Gift this weekend.
The Ballarat contingient in the men’s 120m Gift race is headlined by reigning Stawell Gift champion Matt Wiltshire and Maryborough Gift winner Joel Bee. Both will be backmarkers in their respective heats today.
And Tara Domaschenz from Mt Clear will give the Women’s Gift race a shake off a mark of 4.25m.
Bee, off 1.25m, is a late entry after recovering from a back injury. The 20-year-old said he was confident he could hold off Ross.
“He won’t catch me off 1.25m,” Bee said. “He’s giving me a 3m start and he beat me by a metre at Zatopek last year.”
Wiltshire will start from 3.25m. The 21-year-old said he felt fit and was keen to put on a good show in front of his home crowd.
Domaschenz, who won Australia’s richest female gift at Stonnington last year, said there was a buzz among the female runners about racing against Barbados sprinter Bailey, who is starting off -3.5.