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13 April, 2021

Local girl stars at Stawell Gift

DIMBULAH sprinter Kayla Montagner has done herself and her community proud at the national final of Stawell Gift Women’s events over the Easter weekend placing first in the semi-finals and reaching a personal best.


Kayla Montagner from Dimbulah at the Stawell Gift 2021. PHOTO: Luke Hemer.

BY ELLIE FINK  

DIMBULAH sprinter Kayla Montagner has done herself and her community proud at the national final of Stawell Gift Women’s events over the Easter weekend placing first in the semi-finals and reaching a personal best. 

The Stawell Gift has been running for 139 years in the small town of Stawell outside Melbourne. It has been dubbed Australia’s oldest and richest short distance running event. 

The 23-year old has been running since Grade 10 at school, starting off in long distance running before transitioning to short distance sprints. 

“I did like long distance, but I loved to go fast and often found myself catching up to the other racers, so I decided to see where short distance would take me,” she said.

Kayla participated in two different sprints at Stawell Gift 2021, making the semi-finals for both. First the 70-metre race with her semi-final time being 8.685 seconds and the 120-metre race with her semi-final time being 14.108 seconds and final race time being 14.073. 

Kayla came first in her semi-final races for both distances and came sixth overall in the 120-metre final. 

Despite not taking home the win, Kayla managed to hit a personal best in one of her heats, sprinting 120-metres in 13.918 seconds, a challenge for sprinters to do. 

Based off her previous races, she was given a seven-metre handicap, a method used to allow the racers to finish at the same time based on their previous timings, making her overall racing distance 127 metres.

Kayla trained hard leading up to the event, with gym and sprinting on grass being her main priority. She said that overall she is proud of her outcome and even smashed a personal best record. 

“I felt amazing and terrified because the calibre of sprinters was phenomenal,” she said. 

"I am very happy considering the last time I raced I didn’t quite make it to the final, so when I won the semi-final, I was pretty happy. 

“I broke a personal record in the 70-metre race and managed to get under the 14 second barrier which is pretty hard to do.” 

 Inspiring rural sprinters to follow in her foot steps is Kayla’s motive after coming home from Stawell. 

“Most people just stop running after graduating high school as they think it’ll get them nowhere, but it can get you places like Stawell,” she said. 

“I strongly encourage sprinters at school to get involved and keep motivated.” 

Kayla is currently taking a break from the big competitions and only doing local races for the next few months to wind down from her recent exploits  


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