One of the longest-running, continuous sporting events in the history of World Sport.
The BURNIE GIFT
Simon Fitzpatrick wins Burnie Gift in photo-finish
January 3, 2015
By JORDAN ABELL
GIFTED WINNER: Victorian veteran runner Simon Fitzpatrick holds up the Burnie Gift trophy after yesterday’s thrilling win. INSET: Fitzpatrick celebrates. Pictures: Stuart Wilson.
A PEP talk from his coach before the biggest race of his life proved to be just the catalyst Victorian veteran Simon Fitzpatrick needed.
The 30-year-old held off the fast-finishing backmarker and pre-race favourite, Jacob Despard, to win the time-honoured South Cape Cheese Men's Burnie Gift (120m) last night.Starting off 9.5 metres, Fitzpatrick led the other five finalists from the outset before 2013 winner Despard (4.5m) came storming home.
The pair crossed the line simultaneously and it was up to the judges to pick the victor in what was a photo-finish.
Simon Fitzpatrick (pink) wins the 2014 men's Burnie Gift.
After a nervous minute's wait, Fitzpatrick was crowned champion by one hundredth of a second in a time of 12.78s.
His coach Adrian Mott had come runner-up in two previous Burnie Gifts, including a narrow loss to Despard two years ago.
"He's back in Melbourne and I spoke to him about the final and he said 'just make sure you beat him this time for me' so [there was] no pressure, but I'm really excited and pumped and delighted," Fitzpatrick said.
"I thought I was a chance [of winning] and probably going into the final, it was Jacob that I was most worried about.
"It's hard when you're kind of out there by yourself, but you just do what you can and you hope for the best.
"[I'm] pretty stoked. I haven't won any 120m before so I'm really, really happy."
A short to middle-distance runner normally, Fitzpatrick has triumphed twice on the hallowed turf at Stawell in his home state.
However, he said those feats pale in comparison to winning Tasmania's richest footrace, with a winner's cheque of $9000.
"Definitely the highlight - easily the highlight [of my career]," he said.
"I've been doing aths for a long time so it shows if you persevere sometimes you can get some surprises like this."