This year’s Stawell Gift takes on special significance, with the unveiling of a plaque marking the international importance of the prestigious western Victorian athletics carnival.
Acting Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Jaala Pulford on Monday attended the 139th running of the Gift, joining with Stawell Gift Event Management Committee chair Stephanie Spence and Stawell Athletic Club president Neil Blizzard to unveil a plaque presented by World Athletics.
The plaque recognises the enormous impact of the Gift in the development of the sport in Australia and beyond. Stawell is the only athletics event in Australia to receive this recognition from World Athletics, the sport’s governing body.
The future of the Gift had been clouded until the Andrews Labor Government last year backed the iconic event with an investment of $1.22 million across four years to ensure the carnival continues to provide a substantial economic benefit. With a new board of management, a new major sponsor in Powercor and a stellar line-up of athletes, crowds have flocked to Central Park over the long weekend.
Major events such as the Stawell Gift underpin Victoria’s global reputation as a top tourist destination, resulting in more local jobs and continued economic growth. The Gift brings thousands of visitors to the town and the region and is broadcast across the nation, encouraging tourists to visit this wonderful part of Victoria. World Athletics heritage plaques celebrate iconic athletics careers, cities, competitions, culture, performances and venues around the world.
Pulford said “Stawell at Easter is a Victorian tradition that brings major benefits to the region, bolstering businesses and supporting jobs. We’re proud to be backing its continued growth.”
Stawell Gift Event Management Committee chair Stephanie Spence said,“It’s fantastic that World Athletics have acknowledged the special place that Stawell holds in the history of the sport – and even better that the future of the event is secure.”
Stawell Athletic Club president Neil Blizzard said, “The World Athletics heritage plaque recognises the efforts of committee members, athletes,spectators,supporters and sponsors throughout the history of the event who have made the Stawell Gift what it is.”