THERE were plenty of athletes to make their mark at Monday’s Maryborough Gift athletics meeting .
But easily the biggest cheers from a huge crowd at Princes Park were reserved for Glenn McMillan, winner of the open 1600m final.
The 25-year-old was born and bred in Maryborough and has lived in the Central Goldfields Shire town for all but the last two years of his life.
McMillan now calls Echuca home and is a teacher at Gunbower Primary School.
He won the race off 170 metres, five seconds clear of Joshua Sait (180m) from Shepparton, with Nathan Burfitt (230m) third ahead of Bendigo’s Jacob Nolan (145m) in fourth.
The powerfully built athlete said he had fond memories of the scene of his biggest athletics win, having played about 50 under-18 and reserve grade and a handful of senior matches for Maryborough Football Club.
“I was living here with mum and dad, but went to Shepparton in 2016 with work and have now moved to Gunbower Primary School to teach there,” he said.
McMillan is a relative newcomer to athletics. He took up the sport less than 18 months ago, essentially to lose weight.
“When I went to Shepparton I joined the local running group and met my coach Paul Ford, who said I had a bit of speed about me,” he said.
“But I was still about 100 kilos at that stage – I’ve trimmed down from 100 to 80 (kilograms).
“It’s turned out to be a good move.”
The win at Maryborough was McMillan’s second of the 2017-18 Victorian Athletics League season. He won the corresponding event at Northcote on December 10.
“That played out pretty much the same – I just sat behind the leaders and had a nice kick at the end,” he said.
“It was good to get the crowd involved here.
“I had been visualising for the last 15 months actually running here at Maryborough.
“I’ve probably been down to the track three times in the last two weeks just visualising that (winning) moment.
“The grass has been for the past two weeks and I’ve been working hard on my finish.”
McMillan said he would spend the next few weeks working on his speed and target a race at the Ballarat Gift meeting on February 3 and 4.
His longer-term aim is qualifying for a middle-distance race at the Stawell Gift at Easter.
“Hopefully there’s a long career in athletics ahead of me – if I stay fit and don’t get injured,” he said.