Olympian Melissa Breen eyes Wodonga gift

LONDON Olympian Melissa Breen will headline a strong field competing in the $22,000 Albury-Wodonga Gift Carnival at the Albury Sportsground later this month.

The Canberra sprinter has accepted an invitation to run in the rich event along with 2013 Stawell Gift winner Andrew Robinson.

Breen, 23, will run in the women’s gift and possibly the 70-metre event while there is a good chance Olympic gold medal pole vaulter Steve Hooker will make a guest appearance.

“The Albury-Wodonga Gift is a great opportunity for many of Australia’s best athletes to compete not only for the great challenge, but also for the prize money,” Breen said yesterday.

“For example, pro-sprinting is an important thing for athletes who compete in the amateurs where there is no prize money.

“Winning races like these helps fund athletes’ dreams by getting them to the Olympics.”

Breen was selected to run in the 100 metres at London despite not having run an Olympic A qualifying time.

Last year’s gift was taken out by Shane Ezard in 12.164 seconds.

Robinson said he was looking forward to running in Albury for the first time.

“Being one of the higher profile gifts on the pro sprinting tour, I’m really looking forward to coming up to Albury to compete for the first time,” Robinson said.

“It attracts a lot of talented athletes and it’s a great way to spend Australia Day.”

Albury-Wodonga Gift president Tom Burbidge said he was confident of receiving strong support from Border runners.

“Albury has a rich history in foot races going back as far as 1937,” Burbidge said.

“The region is well-known for being a big sporting community and produces some extremely talented athletes.

“This year is shaping up to be another big one already.

“We have received record entries and amazing support from the local business community as well as the athletes.”

The fastest footballer race is becoming one of the main attractions of the event with Wangaratta Rovers star Ash Pollard taking out last year’s race.

Gates open at 10am on January 26.