Croker earns prized Gift

FRONT AND CENTRE: Mount Gambier's Leila Croker (yellow) steals a narrow win in the 120m women's Mount Gambier Gift feature race. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

James Murphy

HOME-grown athletics talent Leila Croker has etched her name into the Blue Lake city’s running history books, winning the women’s 2023 Mount Gambier Gift on Saturday in her home town.

Croker finished runner-up in last year’s feature event, which is raced over 120 metres, to Tayla Philis.

However, this year the 17-year-old went one step better and a strong finish had her cross the line 0.7 of a second ahead of Helena Schwerdt for a winning time of 14.28 seconds.

Mikayla Round finished in third – as she did in 2022 – with Isabel Ross, Tayla Philis and Taylah Perry filling the minor placings.

Post race Croker expressed her excitement to win the prestigious race.

“I wasn’t expecting that time and I am happy with that outcome,” she said.

She said her last leg was probably her strongest and is what got her the win.

“I just found something extra, I am not sure where it came from,” she said.

“I would like to thank my coach Gaby (Philis), all my squad, the other athletes and all of my family who has come down to watch.”

Earlier in the day Croker also won the Under 18 Girls 120m, where she backed up her 2022 win in the category.

The men’s Gift was another close finish, with Hayden Rothe claiming the honours by just 0.5 seconds.

His 12.382 second run was enough to fend off Xavier Poole, while Kevin Brittain rounded out the podium.

Rothe had raced in the Gift final the last three years and after a third place last year, managed to claim the honours this time around.

Tristan Scheirs, Luke Rigby and Aubery Watson rounded out the placings.

Of course the two feature races were not the only prizes on offer, with a variety of distances and age groups catering for athletes.


70m Women: Ella Clogg 1, Mikayla Round 2, Leila Croker 3; 70m Men: Kevin Brittain 1, Joel Cedric Ebomo 2, Danny Hildyard 3; 120m Under 14: Leo McMeel 1, Lachlan Fanning 2, Sophie Burrows 3; 120m Under 18 Girls: Leila Croker 1, Sophie Burrows 2, Hannah McMeel 3; 120m Under 18 Boys: Oliver Sibbick 1, Patrick Meade 2, Max Disbury 3; 120m Over 35: Ben Abriani 1, Sonya Pollard 2, Damien Nicholls 3; 300m Under 14: Leo McMeel 1, Madiha Aaliyah Zoalang Mouri-Flourent 2, Taj Allen 3; 300m Under 18 Girls: Scarlett Poole 1, Tully Allen 2, Claire Hardy 3; 300m Under 18 Boys: Oliver Sibbick 1, Sam Sibbick 2, Max Disbury 3; 300m Over 35: Owen Boyce 1, James Grant 2, Ben Abriani 3; 400m Women: Jade Dinan 1, Brooke Hayball 2, Victoria Cholsh 3; 400m Men: Gianny Scoleri 1, Rory White 2, Xavier Poole 3; 1600m Open: Leslie Jagger 1, James Grant 2, Callum Wade 3; 120m Little Athletics: Flynn Turner 1, Evie Colley 2, Blaise Turner 3; 120m Little Athletics 2: Lucy Colley 1, Indi Longhurst 2, Kiahna Little 3; 800m Little Athletics: Judd Carter 1, Indi Longhurst 2, Stacey Edwards 3.