TODAY Matt Wiltshire returns to the place where his life all changed one year ago.
His mindset has changed. It had to.
Wiltshire’s mark was pulled back 3.75 metres this Victorian Athletic League season, as reigning Stawell Gift champion, and a long way in a 120m handicap.
He has become the hunter, chasing from the backmarks, no longer just doing his race from the pack.
Wiltshire told The Courier yesterday his 120m was now a completely different race.
“I have a different mindset, even with pressure of starting way behind. I’m starting to get on top of my races at the right time and hope a Stawell Gift semi-final is definitely on the cards,” Wiltshire said.
“Already being a Stawell Gift finalist, I have the confidence knowing what to do ... but I think this year is where everything starts to sink in.”
Wiltshire has watched his race over and over, especially when guest speaking at events. He still gets nervous.
The excitement and thrill can make his hands shake, just a little, as race vision unfolds.
The race changed his life from the moment he crossed the line first last Easter Monday — the networking, the public speaking engagements, special appearances.
Last night, he worked with his childhood hero, and this year’s Stawell Gift headline act, Jamaican sprint superstar Asafa Powell at the Gift’s Calcutta and Call of the Card.
Even his training is different.
Wiltshire says coach Peter O’Dwyer, a seasoned and well-performed Stawell contender, has eased up checking on his diet and sleep.
But he still maintains the strict regime.
They talk a lot about last year and what it means in driving them forward.
“It makes me proud how happy I made Pete,” Wiltshire said.
“He was so happy for me. He’s tried that many times to win Stawell, he was second last year, but never actually got through.
“He can live the dream with me.”
The pair aim to take Wiltshire to the national amateur circuit next season.
Their focus now is very much on Stawell where Wiltshire, yet to win a sash this season, is a red-hot chance in the open 70m.
Should he taste success again, Wiltshire would have captured three consecutive sashes in three years at Stawell — starting with the novice 100m two years ago.
Wiltshire will have a chance to race dual Stawell Gift champion Joshua Ross, who will start 4.5m behind him, in the Gift Winners’ Gift and said it was also a great benchmark in his training pursuits for next season.
Should he go head-to-head with Asafa Powell, it would only be in the Gift final.
Wiltshire was also keen for his POD Squad stablemates to taste success — Sam Baird, Liam Procaccino and Connor Nunn have been in stellar 400m form while Holly Dobbyn and Nadia and Tara Domaschenz should be key contenders in the women’s gift.
Whatever this weekend might bring, Wiltshire knows it is going to be special. He will take a moment for a chance to re-live where it all happened at Central Park.