Photograph: Neil Grant, Jamesonsphotography

The Guardian – April. 17, 2017

Sixteen-year-old sprinter Liv Ryan has taken out the Stawell Gift women’s race, finishing in 13.72 seconds, ahead of Maddie Coates. Before men’s favourite Matthew Rizzo made it a day for the teenagers in his 12.20 victory in the marquee event.

Running off a 7.5m handicap, 18-year-old Rizzo took the lead halfway through the 120m final and enjoyed a convincing win. Nathan Riali was second and Kyle Grubnic finished third.

Rizzo, from Langwarrin, made waves last year in reaching the final, but arrived in Stawell this time as the favourite, and dominated throughout. No other runner went quicker than his 12.20 seconds over the weekend.

“I walked away last year from that final a little bit disappointed but I did it this year so I’m stoked, absolutely stoked,” said Rizzo, who is coached by Brett Robinson.

Ryan, who started off 11m, saw her odds plummet from $31 on Friday to $2 on Saturday morning. Two days after being considered a long shot, the Donvale runner also won her first Gift, edging out Coates and Sarah Blizzard.

Rizzo and Ryan won $40,000 apiece for their wins. Scratch marker Toea Wisil and Melissa Breen did not progress past the semi-finals earlier on Monday, while Taylah Perry finished fourth in the final.