Stawell Gift champion Josh Ross backs Ballarat sprinter Joel Bee

TWO-TIME Stawell Gift champion Josh Ross says Ballarat sprinter Joel Bee must be “hungry as hell” if he hopes to win the famous Easter footrace this weekend.

Bee has been handed sole backmark for the $60,000 Stawell Gift and will start from 0.75m in today’s 120m heats at Central Park.

The 21-year-old should be better prepared than ever following more than four months’ training with Ross – his new coach and housemate – in Melbourne.

Ross said he and Bee had watched past Stawell Gift tapes, including his second win from scratch in 2005, in the lead-up to the carnival.

“I try to inspire him and motivate him and pass down as much knowledge as I can to him from what I’ve learnt over the years in my career in pro running, and the amateurs as well,” Ross told The Courier.

“I think it’s important to go over the races and try and break it down, show him what I did here, in this phase and that phase.”

Ross won’t compete in this year’s event because of a two-year ban from ASADA for missing drug tests – which he is appealing – but will be in Stawell as part of Bee’s support team.

He said for Bee to win this weekend, everything had to connect on the day.

“It’s a tough thing to do, but it’s not impossible,” Ross said.

“It’s up to him if he can put it together on the day. My job is to train him as best as possible, and his job on the day is to perform.”

Ross said Bee was running faster times than he was at the same age.

“I definitely can see him running individually in the 100m for Australia. The guy is only 21, he’s running faster than I was when I was 21. It’s a matter of staying patient, keep training and being persistent and consistent,” Ross said.

“Everyone internationally, all the fast guys train with each other and push each other so I think it has been important for us to connect and come together as a team.

“Joel has been fantastic at training. He’s focused and not afraid of hard work.”

Bee, a $41 chance with TAB Sportsbet, will start his Stawell Gift campaign in heat eight today at 1.50pm.

tim.oconnor@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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