Australian sprint star Josh Ross will benefit from the presence of former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell when he chases an unprecedented third Stawell Gift title at Easter.
Ross is one of only two men to have won the famous 120m handicap event off scratch, achieving the feat in 2005 when he won for the second time.
But with Jamaican gun Powell certain to be the scratch marker this year, Ross can expect to be handed a mark of up to two metres.
Ross last competed at Stawell in 2009 when he was run out in the semi-finals.
He retired from athletics shortly afterwards before making a return in 2011.
The 32-year-old contested the 4x100m relay at the 2012 London Olympics and was bitterly disappointed not to also get a start in the individual 100m in London.
“I’m really excited about going back to Stawell. I haven’t run there for a while and it is my spiritual home in athletics,” Ross said yesterday.
“Going for my third Stawell Gift is special – and certainly achievable because I am in the best shape of my life, as shown by my 200 on Saturday night in Sydney.
“Sydney was the second fastest 200 metres of my career and to do it so late in my career shows that I am still improving.’
Ross (2003 and 2005), Barry Foley (1970 and 1972) and Bill Howard (1966 and 1967) are the only men to have won the Stawell Gift twice in its 132-year history.
“To win a third Stawell Gift would give me living-legend status and I’d love to create history once more,” said Ross, a six-time Australian 100m champion.
The heats of the Stawell Gift are on March 30 with the semi-finals and final on Easter Monday.