Sport Athletics Teenagers Matthew Rizzo and Liv Ryan win Stawell Gift

Teenagers Matthew Rizzo and Liv Ryan win Stawell Gift

Matthew Rizzo wears a winner's smile as he crosses the line in Stawell. AAP/Tracey Nearmy
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Pre-race favourite Matthew Rizzo took out the Stawell Gift with a blistering 12.10 seconds run in the final.

Running off a 7.5m handicap, the 18-year-old from Langwarrin took the lead halfway through the 120m final and enjoyed a convincing win.

Nathan Riali was second and Kyle Grubnic finished third.

After Rizzo made last year’s final, he came in this time as the favourite and dominated throughout. No other runner went quicker than 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.

“I’ve been taught to sprint to get across that line first and that’s exactly what I did in the final.

“Last year I wanted to win it so badly but it didn’t happen, but this year’s win will honestly change my life, it’s a dream come true.

“This year I got a better support group, better training, better coach and more dedication.”

Liv Ryan’s odds plummeted from $31 on Friday to $2 on Saturday morning, and two days later the Donvale runner won the women’s gift, also for the first time.

Starting off 11m, Ryan ran 13.72 seconds to edge out Maddie Coates and Sarah Blizzard was third.

Ryan is the third teenager in a row to win the title and there has been some controversy around the handicapping for the women’s gift.

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