Runner fined after massive 'improvement'

Talia Martin won after 'improving' more in a fortnight than most athletes would in a lifetime. Photo / Getty
Talia Martin won after 'improving' more in a fortnight than most athletes would in a lifetime. Photo / Getty

A teenage girl has been fined after winning $40,000 in a foot race after improving more in a fortnight more than most athletes could in a lifetime.

Talia Martin, 15, won the 120-metre sprint on Monday to receive the prestigious Stawell Gift, but was docked $2000 for showing rapid improvement at the race in the regional Victorian town.

The schoolgirl from Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne, had been eliminated in the heats of the Ararat Gift only 12 days earlier, a below-par performance she put down to the recent death of her aunt.

An extreme range improvement is anything more than four metres. The Ballarat teen had improved by seven metres in the short time frame

"It is like, in the horse racing game, getting beaten in a maiden at Pakenham and 12 days later winning the Cox Plate or something," chief steward Brian Marantelli said.

Talia's father and coach, Peter O'Dwyer, reportedly appealed for the fine to be lessened, but did not appeal the verdict.

The fine was reportedly reduced to $500 but stewards imposed a percentage fine of winnings, adding a further $1500 fine.

Athletes are handicapped according to form and ability, and start off varying marks accordingly, according to the Stawell website.

Talia won the women's Gift in 13.70 ahead of Tierra Exum - the sister of NBA star Dante Exum - and Sarah Blizzard.

The 15-year-old reportedly said she had "always wanted a hover board" and plans to purchase one with her winnings, while the rest will be saved.

Talia said it had been hard without her aunt who'd passed away before the previous race.

"Aunty Barb always came down to Stawell with us and it's been really hard without her.

"Hopefully she is watching me from up in heaven and she is proud," she said, according to Sydney Morning Herald.

Talia became the youngest to ever win the Stawell Women's Gift, according to ABC.

Queenslander Isaac Dunmall, 22, won the men's race off a handicap of 6.75 metres, with a winning time of 12.17 seconds.

Olympian gold medallist Cathy Freeman is one of those to grace the Stawell Gift hall of fame.

- Daily Mail

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