Ballarat’s Liam Procaccino marked a career-high as he won Sunday nignt’s Bendigo Bank Black Opal 400m at the Bendigo International Madison.
The 17-year-old said his victory in the country’s richest 400m was a “dream come true”.
PHOTO FINISH: Liam Procaccina, blue, lunges to win the Black Opal final. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY
After starting on the 14m mark, Procaccino was able to catch limit marker Michael Voumard (38m) right on the line.
The race winner was mobbed by stablemates from the POD squad at the line.
“Sam Baird from our stable won this race two years ago. He’s an inspiration,” Procaccino said.
Teenager’s Black Opal triumph
The latest Black Opal champion said trainer Peter O’Dwyer was a great influence.
“I have developed a lot more this season. There’s been more work on technique and greater intensity at training.”
Those gut-busting workouts at training paid off, especially in the dash on the Tom Flood Sports Centre home straight.
“At 200 metres to go I was still a fair way behind. The 120 is a sharp bend and the lactic acid was building.”
Procaccino won in a time of 45.97 seconds from Voumard, 46.01, and Dion Paull (25m) in 46.12.
A year 12 student at Ballarat Grammar, Procaccino has sights set on the Stawell Gift carnival at Easter.
The night’s athletics action included victory by Catherine Hibberd in the Flack Advisory-backed Bendigo Thousand Women’s Vase (120m).
Hibberd started off limit of 21.25m and could not be caught.
“The key was to get away to a good start and run as fast as I could.
“The wind picked up, but it meant I had less wind to run in than the others.”
Hibberd won the final in a time of 14.12 seconds ahead of Samatha Hargreaves (19.75m) in 14.19, and Ruby Klemm (17.25) in 14.22 seconds.
SPEED DEMON: Catherine Hibberd, pink, takes out the Bendigo Thousand Women’s Vase. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY
The Women’s Vase champion said trainer Angela Phillips had played a big role in the lead-up to Bendigo and to other meets on the Victorian Athletics League circuit.
The 30-year-old from South Yarra was rapt to have won the sprint duel at one of the most prestigious athletics meets in the country.
Hibberd sizzles in Vase
Away from the athletics track, Hibberd is an orthopaedic surgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
She will aim to keep the winning run rolling at Euroa, Ringwood and Stawell.
Other winners on the athletics across the Bendigo International Madison carnival included Tim Potter, open 70m; Dylan Moore, under-20 120m; Scott Shillito, masters 300m; Meg Deane, novice 400m; Tom Hecimovic, frontmarkers 800m; and James Colllier, backmarkers 800m.
Strathdale’s Jacob Nolan put in a brilliant run to win the frontmarkers mile.
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