NOW he has tasted Gift glory, Lee Forrest says he wants to win as many as possible.
Forrest’s win in the $15,000 Maryborough Gift 120-metre handicap yesterday rewards a steady comeback from a motorcycle accident that had him needing skin grafts and kept him sidelined for most of last season – his first summer on the Victorian Athletic League circuit.
He still bares the scars from the accident on the back of his right knee.
“(Winning) feels pretty amazing,” the 18-year-old said.
“I thought I had a good chance ... I knew I was running my best when I got a good start.
“The track is nice and sharp and there was a bit of a tail wind through most of the heats and semis.”
The teen from Tallangatta, near Albury-Wodonga, run-
ning off seven metres, edged out strong contender Noddy Angelakos (12m) to win the coveted New Year’s Day sash in 12.34 seconds.
New South Wales’ Dean Scarff (5.5m) was third.
Still relatively inexperienced in VAL meets, Forrest has trained with his coach Marcus Arnold since the trainer spotted him in a primary school race.
Forrest says he will wait to consult his coach on his next move in athletics and, fresh out of high school into a gap year, will have more time to focus on his running and part-time work.
“I just love pro running,” Forrest said.
“Hopefully I have a few more left in me.
“I’m just happy I’ve done the best I could.”
Defending champion Joel Bee, from Ballarat, reached the semi-finals.
Bee had the tightest mark of the entire field, running off one metre, but a strong finish in the heats allowed him to progress to the semi-finals as a fastest qualifier.
Ballarat’s other contenders in the Gift were Peter O’Dwyer and Matt Wiltshire.
Gift results, page 33Continued page 38