Langwarrin teenager Matthew Rizzo used the motivation of defeat last year to take him to a commanding win in the Stawell Gift on Monday.
Rizzo, 18, was never going to do anything but win and collected the $40,000 first prize from the time he left the blocks.
He quickly found the lead from his 7.5-metre mark and was in a race of his own as he matched his heat-winning time of 12.10 seconds – the fastest of the weekend and 0.2 faster than his semi-final-win.
No one else broke 12.20 for the weekend, with Nathan Riali’s 12.27 next best in the semi-finals.
Rizzo said he had been extremely disappointed when fifth in last year’s final – seeing it as a lost opportunity – and had been determined to improve on that performance.
He put his improvement down to a better training regime and greater commitment.
Rizzo is trained by Queensland-based Brett Robinson, with fellow sprinter Matt Carter providing hands-on supervision in Victoria.
He was trained by Bruce Gulliver before joining Robinson's Viking Athletics squad.
While he did not feel any pressure from being a clear-cut favourite for Gift right through the three-day carnival, he admitted there were still plenty of pre-race nerves.
“I was really nervous behind the blocks.”
Rizzo, who had previously won a 400m at Stawell, said all he wanted to do was run.
“That’s what I have been trained to do. I had tunnel vision and all I wanted to do was get to the finish.”
Carter said Rizzo’s preparation was “absolutely” perfect.
“He’s done a phenomenal job. He’s put in the hard yards and done everything right.”
Rizzo first linked up with Carter as a 15-year-old in a chance meeting at Bunnings, where he works on a casual basis.
Rizzo’s mother Debbie said her son had handled the build-up to the Gift and everything that went with it extremely well.
“He thrives on pressure.”