Legendary Maitland athletics trainer Bob Gulliver's mark is on this year's Stawell Gift.
The men’s and women’s favourites, in Australia’s richest footraces, Matthew Rizzo and Papua New Guinea’s Toea Wisil are both pupils of what Gulliver calls the Smyth Oval System.
The Smyth Oval System is Gulliver’s tried and true training techniques from his coaching days at Maitland’s Smyth Oval starting in 1975.
Gulliver said his system was picked up by his sons Bruce and Bryan and 1975 classmate Tony Fairweather in their successful coaching careers.
Bruce guided Rizzo in Victoria until last year, when Bruce moved back to Maitland, and has left the 18-year-old under the guidance of another of his runners Matt Carter.
Wisil, the Australian 100m and 200m women’s champion, is trained by Fairweather.
Gulliver’s other son Bryan is overseeing Largs twins Jack and Tom Newman’s campaigns, with both qualifying for the Stawell Gift semi-finals.
Bryan’s other runners Tim Eschebach and Jason Polglase narrowly missed spots in the semis.
Tom Newman finished fourth in the final of the 70m with only a matter of centimetres separating him and the winner Kyle Grubnic who finished 0.038 seconds ahead of him.
The twins also qualified for Monday’s 200m semi-finals, with Jack finishing third fastest and Tom sixth in the qualifying round.
Rizzo has left no doubt he is the one to beat in the Stawell Gift.
He lived up to favouritism with a slashing heat win in the fastest time of the day of 12.10 seconds and will line up in the fourth semi-final beside Jack Newman who he beat in their heat. Tom is in the sixth semi-final.
The semi-finals of the 200m start at 10.50am with the Women’s Gift semis from 11.50am and the men’s semi-finals from 12.23pm.
The final of the 200m is scheduled for 1.40pm, the Women’s Gift at 1.50pm and Stawell Gift at 2.20pm.
Live coverage on Prime TV begins from 11.30am.