Sydney runner Elly Graf made history on Saturday at Cricket Willow by becoming the first woman to win the Daylesford Gift in its 12-year history.
Graf set the standard for the entire day as she won her heat to advance to the semi-final stage, she then qualified for the final with the quickest time, 10.84 seconds, to be among the favourites in the field of six.
The 25-year-old then produced a brilliant run off her handicap of 15 metres to upstage a quality field with a time of 10.73 seconds.
Graf said she surprised herself with such a good run and said it was an honour to be the first woman to win the Gift.
“I don’t know where I pulled that final run from at that time, but I’m quite happy with it,” Graf said.
“It was lovely to be the first woman, it’s always good to make a bit of history – it makes it even better.”
Graf had no trouble adjusting to the temperature that exceeded 30 degrees in the heart of the afternoon, she is no stranger to those sorts of conditions following hours of beach running and track work in New South Wales.
Graf excels on all surfaces having won five gold medals in the Open Women’s Beach Sprint at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, been an Australian team member in the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and Saturday showed her prowess on the grass.
Expectations were high among the Daylesford crowd following her impressive runs in Tasmania which included victory at the Burnie Gift. But Graf had to block out all the external pressure and focus solely on her running – which she did without concern.
“Throughout the day I was told, ‘you should win this’, ‘you should be top three’ so I was quite happy to take away the win.
“You have to try and block it out, but it hypes you up a little bit more as well.
“I prefer this weather – it makes it easier to warm-up and race rather than the cold.”
Graf pipped fellow female runner Stephanie Richards (16.25m) on the line and denied 2016 winner Michael Kember (5.5m) back-to-back victories - he ran fourth.
Daniel Sonsini (5.75m) rounded out the podium while Kristerfer Kardakovski (8.25m) finished fifth and Ballarat’s Tom Moloney (5.5km) came sixth in a tight finish to the 100m race.
Graf will now return to Sydney to compete in local meets, but her long-term sights are set high. She is hoping to compete in Gold Coast’s 2018 Commonwealth Games as well as the IAAF World Championships in August. Graf finished fourth in the Stawell Gift last year and is hoping to once again make the final and hopefully continue her good form to make the podium.
Elly Graf 10.729, Stephanie Richards 10.844, Daniel Sonsini 10.868, Michael Kember 10.873, Kristerfer Kardakovski 10.886, Tom Moloney 10.903
It was lovely to be the first woman, it’s always good to make a bit of history – it makes it even better.Gift winner Elly Graf