After three years of finishing as the runner-up, Bendigo runner Michael Preece has succeeded in winning the Terang Gift Open 1600m.
Preece's (4:12.121) convincing victory on Sunday saw him take the lead with around 150m remaining and then pulled away from the group by five seconds in front of Ingrid Woodward in second and Liam Hanrahan in third.
He couldn't be any prouder of his latest victory which has come on the back of a 24-month stint with minimal events on the Victorian Athletics calendar.
"The lockdown period tested my motivation and at times it was difficult to train as there were limited competitions," he said.
"But I adapted a strong mindset and trained like it was business as usual which I am proud of as it's holding me in good stead as we approach the start of the season."
Part of his pre-training for Kerang included a special program to ensure he was at 100 per cent peak ability for the 1600m race.
"About a month out from Terang I started a hard training block but then tapered off leading up to the event to ensure I was fresh," he said.
"I was focused on ensuring I would run my absolute best race."
The victory has given Preece plenty of confidence leading up to the summer season which includes his next race at Hastings in early January followed by a showing at home in Bendigo for the Victorian Country Championships.
"There's always an incredible atmosphere at the country championships as all of the best regional athletes come to compete," Preece said.
"Being at home I really aim to do well and I am going to train as hard as possible to make sure I am ready."
If there's anything Preece has learned about himself as an athlete during the past 24 months of lockdowns - it's that he will always treat his training sessions as if he has a major event on the horizon.
"Giving up on the sport is just not an option for me, regardless of the unknowns surrounding whether events are going ahead or not.
"I also needed to keep running to help me personally. It takes my mind off everything and encourages me to stay active and fit."
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