NARRE Warren’s Matthew Eddy will be aiming to join one of the smallest clubs in athletics circles at today’s $15,000 Bendigo Bank Maryborough Gift at Princes Park.
Victorious in the 120m classic a year ago, Eddy faces a daunting task trying to match the feats of Matt Carter and Cameron MacKenzie as sprint king at Maryborough two years running.
Carter did so in 2010 and ’11 and will be back again today chasing an unprecedented third win, while MacKenzie, an Olympic representative at Atlanta in 1996, reigned supreme on New Year’s Day in ‘97 and ‘98.
When MacKenzie won 15 years ago, the mercury hit 38 degrees.
There have been other multiple winners of the sprint showdown at the Maryborough Highland Gathering, now in its 152nd year, but Carter and MacKenzie are the only athletes to have won in consecutive years.
Several previous winners of the Maryborough Gift are back chasing more glory this afternoon.
Thurgoona’s Daniel Steinhauser, the champion in 2009, wil race off the 6½m mark in the last of the eight heats.
Steinhauser’s opponents include Ballarat’s Matthew Wiltshire, 3.25m; East Bentleigh’s Douglas Greenough, 7.75; and Lavington’s Jarrod Lindner, 10.50m.
Previous winners, Eddy and Werribee’s Matthew Callard, the champion eight years ago, are drawn to meet in the fifth heat.
Eddy is on 8.25m, and Callard off 10m, in a field that includes Noble Park’s Fabrice Melanie, 7.25; and Ararat’s Jacqueline Scott, 12.
Carter starts off a half-metre in heat six against a field that includes Ringwood East’s Cam Dunbar, the Maryborough Gift winner in 2004, as well as Western’s Zhen Wang, 9; and Buninyong’s Rodney Mathews, 11.
Runner-up to Carter at the 150th Highland Gathering, Frankston’s Benjamin Weaver will race off 6.25m in heat seven.
Weaver will take on the likes of Ballarat’s Peter O’Dwyer, 9.25m; and Torquay’s Shane Ezard, 10.25m.
Today’s action at Princes Park starts at 10am when the open 70m handicap heats are run.
Highlights of the program include the highland games, open 400m, women’s 120m, highland dancing, open 200m, backmarkers 1600m, women’s 400m, sheaf tossing, veterans 300m, and performances by the highland pipe bands and brass bands on and off the arena.
Ticket prices are $14 adults, $7 concession, $28 family (two adults, two children), $5 12-16 years, and under-12 years free.