Daylesford Gift winner targeting Stawell

MICHAEL Kember is planning to use his Daylesford Gift triumph as a launching pad to fulfill a long-held desire to run at the Stawell Easter Carnival.

While he is unsure exactly when that might be, the New South Welshman has never been keener to get to Stawell.

GO THE SPOILS: Michael Kember is crowned the Daylesford Gift winner and with the title he takes home a Jabaroo cricket bat - crafted at home of the Gift, Cricket Willow. Picture: Dylan Burns

GO THE SPOILS: Michael Kember is crowned the Daylesford Gift winner and with the title he takes home a Jabaroo cricket bat - crafted at home of the Gift, Cricket Willow. Picture: Dylan Burns

Kember (6.25m) powered home to claim the Telstra Daylesford Gift in 10.88 seconds at Cricket Willow on Saturday.

Ballarat’s Liam Procaccino (6.75m) made an encouraging start to his Victorian Athletic League season with second, while Darren Whittaker (10.25m) from Melbourne was third in the 100m event.

Kember said while he would like nothing better than make his Stawell debut this year, he was not able to yet make this commitment.

The 26-year-old said he was never more certain than now though that he would get to Central Park.

“I’d love to go, but I’ll just have to wait and see when.”

He said would need to speak with his coach Roger Fabri, who preferred to focus his runners’ efforts in their home state of NSW.

Kember’s preparation for the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on April 16-24 – three weeks after the Stawell Gift – might also play a factor.

Kember made his VAL debut at Maryborough on New Year’s Day - finishing third in the Gift and reaching the 70m final.

He also finished fourth in Saturday’s 70m final.

Kember could not speak highly enough of his Victorian experience – heaping praise on the VAL and atmosphere of the Maryborough and Cricket Willow meets.

He said the Queanbeyan Gift was only comparable event the NSWAL had.

Kember said now that he had the taste for what Victoria had to offer, he certainly wanted more of it, and would be doing all he could to encourage other members of the Fabri stable to venture south of the Murray.

Kember, who immediately declared he would be returning to defending Daylesford title next year, is among 40 to 50 athletes who train under Fabri’s guidance.

The physical education teacher said having Maryborough and Daylesford Gifts on consecutive days has been an ideal scenario for interstate visitors such as himself, with the short stay keeping expenses to a minimum.

Daylesford is Kember’s biggest success in four years on the professional running circuit, with his previous highlight being a win in the Cowra Gift.

Kember used beach sprinting, in which he represents northern Sydney surf life saving club Collaroy, as a stepping stone to pro athletics and is keen to continue to mix the two disciplines.

“It ensures there always something on.”

Kember impressed from the outset in windy conditions in the Daylesford Gift – winning a heat in 11.49 and semi-final in 11.15.

Procaccino improved as the day progressed.

The 18-year-old finished second in his heat in 11.46, won a semi-final in 11.73 and then clocked 10.97 in the final.