Nathanial Kalsrap wins his second straight Norfolk Island “Gift” 2020

With a fast track prepared as part of Athletics Norfolk Islands renovation of the track surface at the Malcolm Champion Oval, the times for the 2020 Norfolk Island “Gift” were expected to deliver record times and exciting competition. Both were delivered in abundance on Saturday with the annual running of the “Gift”, now closing in on nearly 30 years of continuous competition.

 

Attracting 68 entries across the 3 “Gift” events, the afternoon commenced with the first of 5 heats of the 100 metres. The charge for glory was led off by a win for past Norfolk Island representative at the 2019 Oceania Championships, TK Morgan, who easily took out his heat ahead of Brycen Menzies and a fast finishing Liam Christian Bailey.

Athletes needed to focus on registering the fastest times rather than just relying on placing to get through to the final and Nathanial Kalsrap pushed hard to win in the second heat to lock in a fast time and early favoritism for the title. Finishing second behind Nathanial, Stephanie Hirsch, had also been training hard leading into the competition and also was in contention for a finals placing.

The 3rd heat brought Brandon Borg onto the track for his first event of the day and what an appearance it was with him setting the fastest time so far and encouraging fast finals qualifying times from 2nd placed Cameron Rogers and Zoe Cribb who ran 3rd.

Heat 4 saw the return of previous “Gift” winner and World Championship representative in both Indoors and Outdoors, Dylan Menzies, with a healthy age handicap, storm down the track and stamp his claim to a finals berth in equaling Brandon’s  fastest heat time of the day. Ella Rogers battled strongly to take second spot and her effort was also to be rewarded with a place in the final.

The final heat was stacked with fast young talent including yet another Kalsrap, this time Alickson, making his debut appearance at the “Gift”. With his brother Nathanial already through on time to the final and knowing his older brother Marc having had won the “Gift” on 3 occasions, the pressure was on to impress. He certainly did in winning his heat, but his time was just outside qualifying for the final. There is no doubt that in time his name will join his brother’s names on the winner’s plaque for the “Gift”.

 

With the final heat of the 100 metres, the finalists had been decided and so everyone’s attention shifted to the running of the World Traders 400 metres.

Athletes are handicapped on age and gender and with those factors determined, each individual athlete was placed around the track at various distances ranging from a start of 9 metres through to 131 metres.

The starter, Tim Rogers, waited patiently for the athletes to be placed at their respective marks and then gave the start commands before the pistol cracked and the race was underway. Cam Rogers, as the back marker started very strongly, reeling in a steady stream of other runners and it looked at the midway point that he might take out his maiden 400 meter title. Mere Sadrata had also begun strongly along with Ella Rogers and Stephanie Hirsch.

However, as the field raced their way into the final bend it was Brandon Borg who burst into contention with a very gutsy performance to pass over 13 athletes and take out his first 400 metre title , ahead of Ellla Rogers in 2nd place and the “pocket rocket” of the day, Daniella Randall, who finished in 3rd spot. Stephanie Hirsch crossed into 4th place, pushed hard by Cam Rogers in 5th and followed in by brothers Brycen and Kingston Menzies in 6th and 7th places respectively. Filling out the top 8 was another rising star, Mim Quintal, who put on another great display in only her second outing in the “Gift” events.

 

The” Middlegate Mile “was next on the program, with a field of 16 athletes vying for the 2020 title. With multi time title holder Richard Cribb giving this event a miss this year, it appeared that 2018 winner, Teva Evans, who had sent in a late entry, would sweep this field in style as he did in at his last outing.

In this race , each athlete has a time handicap that is applied at the start meaning they start at different intervals ranging from a few seconds through to 78 seconds, and a spread out field well before the end of the first of 4 laps of the oval.

Alastair Wray, having already run both the heats of the 100 metres and the 400 metres, was one of the first off the start and ran strongly to pursue Charlie Umlauft before they were both picked up by Vinnie Martinovich, his brother Tony  and Emily Ryves who were chasing podium positions for the first time. Impressive runs by BB Morgan, Koszta Deszecsar, Jesse Schmitz and Cam Rogers stirred the parents and spectators into life as they battled though the laps to the finish, but it was the athlete of the day, Brandon Borg , who once again showed his strength and style to dominate the race and take out an easy win and the 2020 Middlegate Mile title. Vinnie Martinovich, who had taken an early lead, was passed by Brandon in the final straight and happily took second place ahead of defending champion, Teva Evans. BB Morgan fought off a late challenge from Koszta to cross in 4th, Koszta in 5th and Jesse Schmitz, with the strongest finish of the afternoon, finishing in 6th. Kieran Lawler picked up his first placing in his Norfolk debut, in 7th and Emily Ryves into 8th.

 

Next up, the long-awaited final of the Norfolk Island Gas Centre 100 metres. Eight nervous athletes, many of whom had also competed in the 400 metres and the mile lined up to face the start line and their chance to have their name etched onto the Perpetual shield as the 2020 champion.

Tim Rogers issued his starters commands as the spectators fell silent and with a strengthening headwind took hold, the field exploded from the blocks as the starters gun roared to be joined by the yells of encouragement from the bleachers.

Dylan, Brandon and Nathanial were quickly in their stride, with TK in hot pursuit. Stephanie Hirsch and Zoe Cribb, as front markers on handicap, started strongly to battle for early supremacy but were gradually reeled in by Cam and Ella Rogers. The cheering grew louder as the favorites took control of the race in the dying metres and running strongly through the finish, Nathanial Kalsrap left his fellow competitors to fight out the podium spots, taking his second straight title in a time of just over 11 seconds , with Dylan Menzies 2nd, pipping Brandon Borg into 3rd spot and a blindingly quick finish from TK Morgan pushing him into 4th. Cameron Rogers 5th, his sister Ella in 6th with Zoe Cribb taking 7th crossing ahead of Stephanie Hirsch to round out the top 8.

 

Presentation of the prizes followed with Ian Anderson presenting prizes to the first eight finishers in the World Traders 400 metres and Brentt Jones, President of Athletics Norfolk Island presenting prizes and trophies in the Norfolk Island Gas Centre 100 metres and the Middlegate Mile. The top eight in each event received very generous prizes provided by the following very supportive sponsors:

 

Norfolk Island Gas Centre

World Traders

Air Norfolk Travel (TravelWorld)

Norfolk Island Building Supplies

Norfolk Island Supermarkets (Foodland)

The Olive Cafe

Max’s Department Store

Pete’s Place

Christian Bailey Agencies

Pawpaw’s Pumpshed

Cascade Motors

 

Thanks also to Two Drips Water for donating the drinking water and use of a water bubbler for the event. Thanks to Tim Rogers for filling in as official starter and to Rose Evans, Geoff Gardner and Brentt Jones for marshaling and recording and logistics.

Our grateful thanks to our sponsors for their continuing support and to all participants and family supporters and spectators for another great afternoon’s activity.