After a memorable sprint in the 2019 Maryborough Gift, Rupert Lugo will return to defend his title.
It was a race to remember for the Melbourne-based sprinter who put in the hard yards, but pulled his hamstring the moment he crossed the finish line.
"My hamstring knocked me out for a couple weeks but I got the win which was the important thing," Lugo said.
He has been hard at work during recent months at his home-base at George Knott Reserve in Clifton Hill in the lead-up to his title defence.
"My body is great and I'm really excited to return to defend my title," he said.
"I couldn't be happier with how I'm moving on the track.
"I've had a good five months of pre-season training to build strength."
A big change during the year for Lugo was switching coaches, he is now led by Mornington's Matt Carter.
For many athletes the Maryborough Gift marks the beginning of athletics season and also a fantastic way to ring in the New Year.
"A lot of people look at the Maryborough Gift as the marker for when the season kicks off, it's one of the biggest races on the calendar," Lugo said.
"We're all keen to see what we can all put on for New Year's Day."
The winner of the 2019 women's 120m sprint, Tarryn Fisher, is also returning.
However, Fisher will be competing in a 400m event.
Maryborough Highland Society sports secretary Nick Weaver said the event was a "stepping stone" for the rest of the year's racing meets.
"It's great for the athletes as it gets them ready for the rest of the year," Weaver said.
"It's especially great to see Rupert come back to try and regain his Maryborough Gift title."
Weaver has been the sports secretary for around five years, and during that time has been working towards a key goal.
"The future is looking good, hopefully by 2023 the men's and ladies' gift prize money will both be at $15,000," he said.
"The club is putting more money towards it, in addition to our sponsors. It's something I've wanted to see happen since I became secretary five years ago."
There will be footraces across multiple distances starting at 70m, 120m, 200m, 300m, 400m, 800m and 1600m.
Racing begins at 10am and concludes at 6.10pm.
The feature race of the event at Princes Park is the Max Martin Maryborough Gift Final which will be run at 3.45pm and the Women's Sprint 120m Final will be held at 1.45pm.
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