2 October 2018

Page 5


Gifts top the list at athletics’ drawcard Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au

Banjo arrives: Moonlit Sanctuary welcomes its latest arrival, Banjo the koala. Picture: Supplied

New face among the gum trees TASTY eucalyptus leaves, lots of naps, cuddles from mum – welcome to the world of Banjo, the first koala joey born at Moonlit Sanctuary, Pearcedale. Banjo arrived after months of suspense for sanctuary staff. Now, energised by his mother’s nourishing pap, Banjo is ready to ride on her back and see the world through the leaves of the gum trees. In his first days, Banjo spent a long time in

his mother’s pouch attached to her teat. As he grew bigger he would appear from time to time, occasionally poking out a leg, then an arm, or his head. Some days he pulled most of his body out to take a peek. Now, at seven months, Banjo is mostly hanging out on his mum’s back in the sanctuary’s latest exhibit – a 10,000 square foot koala centre with five habitats to encourage breeding.

THE running of the inaugural Hastings Gift with $8000 for the winners of the 120-metre men’s and women’s events will be the highlight of a sporting extravaganza to be held at the Thomas Barclay oval, Hastings, on Saturday 17 November. The main events are sponsored by AGL and other races in the 14-event program include the John Coleman Mile (1600m) Hastings open handicap at $1500 and several races offering $1000 in prize money: the Tucketts Tyrepower 120m Hastings masters handicap; Hastings 120m backmarkers invitational/mixed handicap; Hastings 300m open handicap; Malvolio 300m Hastings masters/women’s handicap; Hastings 800m open handicap, and Hastings 4 x 200m stable mixed relay. The Fast’n’Fearless 70m Hastings novice sprint and the Pride Performance 70m Hastings elimination invitational/mixed handicap will offer $600 prizes, and the WCCI 120m Under 18 men’s and women’s handicaps will offer $300 prizes. The Victorian Athletics League’s 120m Hastings under-14 handicap will offer a sash as prize, while trophies will be awarded to the winners of the Secondary school mixed 4 x 200m relay, and Hastings 4 x 200m Australian Defence Force men’s and women’s relays. The launch of the professional running event has come about after a group of residents received the backing of Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and the Victorian Athletic League.

Hastings Gift president Terry Kelly said the aim of the day was to attract visitors to the Western Port area and to broaden an awareness of professional running, a “part of Australia’s history”. He said the organisers were able to offer prizemoney high enough to attract top athletes. “As a premier athletic event it will give the public the opportunity to see some of the best athletes in Australia competing for the honour of being the inaugural Hastings Gift winner,” Mr Kelly said. “The event came into being as a number of committee members have family and friends that compete on the Victorian Athletic League circuit and live on the Mornington Peninsula. “They compete with local sprinting team Pride Performance. The members have won all the biggest and most prestigious gifts both in Victoria and interstate. Some of their major wins include the Rye Gift, Maryborough Gift, Ballarat Gift, Queanbeyan Gift (NSW) and the iconic Stawell Gift.” Mr Kelly said the event was expected to attract about 500 athletes, including from interstate. “Local support on the day would give this exciting new event a chance to grow as it becomes an annual event on the local and state calendar and offer much needed fundraising opportunities for the community,” Mr Kelly said. “A number of sponsorship opportunities are available, including sponsoring one of the 14 major races on the day.” To inquire about sponsorship call Mr Kelly 0484 954283 or email president@hastingsgift. org

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Western Port News 2 October 2018