Stewart McSweyn is aiming to follow in Cathy Freeman’s footsteps.
McSweyn, the national middle distance star and Olympic hope, is heading to Stawell in western Victoria on Monday and despite giving the rest of the field up to a full lap head start, he hopes to chase down victory in the two-mile event.
Stewart McSweyn wins the 1500m in the Diamond League meeting at Doha in September last year.Credit:AP
In 1995, as she was launching herself on the world stage, Freeman went to Stawell and delivered a performance that took the breath away.
Running from scratch in a 400m race she gave the other runners up to a 54m head start. She got them by the top of the home straight.
The next year, in foul conditions, she went back and did it again.
The videos of those events went viral and enhanced the aura around Freeman as she raced towards the Olympics in 1996 and then, famously, to Olympic gold in the 400m at the Sydney Games.
McSweyn is an emerging superstar on the track. The 25-year-old has qualified in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m for the Tokyo Olympics and has held the 10,000m national record.
His coach, Nic Bideau was Freeman’s coach in that period and has set his King Island star a similar task to Freeman to draw out the competitive beast in him on the grass in Stawell.
Cathy Freeman wins the 400m handicap race at Stawell in 1996.Credit:Bruce Postle
To win, he has to not only overcome the handicappers but an impressive field that also boasts Matthew Ramsden, Brett Robinson, Dave McNeill, Jack Rayner, Ryan Gregson and Jordan Williamsz.
These are not stooges. Ramsden and Robinson both competed at the world championships, McNeil has been to two Olympics, Rayner has won a national 1500m title, Gregson has national titles, held the national 1500m record before McSweyn and has been to two Olympics.
“It’s a really good field so I am going to have my hands full and will have to go full throttle to catch them,” McSweyn said.
“When you watch at home, handicapped races might look easy but you just focus on passing the next runner and the next and it’s hard getting over the last ones.
“It will be fun. I am rapt I saw video of Cathy Freeman’s race just this morning. You see she gets a bump and goes again.
“It’s exciting to have a crack at it. Stawell is just such a famous, great event. I am excited to be able to race here.”
AIA Vitality Invitation 3200m from 1.33pm:
Stewart McSweyn – 0m
Matthew Ramsden – 40m
Brett Robinson – 55m
David McNeill – 55m
Jack Rayner – 60m
Ryan Gregson – 70m
Jordan Williamsz – 75m
Ben Buckingham – 100m
Joel Tobin-White – 110m
Adam Spencer – 180m
Thomas Thorpe – 200m
Christopher Dale – 210m
Jhye Hadfield – 290m
Oscar Robinson – 320m
Men’s and women’s 120m betting:
Women’s from 1.50pm:
Men’s from 2.20pm:
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