Gifted brothers in the fast lane

THERE’S no doubting he’s one of the quickest men in Australia but whether Victorian sprinter Chris Hargreaves is the fastest member of his own family, well, that’s an open question.

This Saturday, Hargreaves will be out to defend his Queanbeyan Gift title against some of the country’s most talented sprinters.

And adding a touch of sibling rivalry to the mix, two of the 25-year-old’s most likely challenges will come from younger sibling Shaun and older brother Matt.

The trio represents arguably the most well-credentialed sprinting families in Australia. Matt is a four-time Victorian sprinter of the year while Shaun showed his potential after finishing fourth at this year’s Stawell Gift – Australia’s richest footrace.

“We’ve grown up racing each other and we’re very competitive,” Chris said in the lead up this this weekend’s race. “It’s good though, we train together and really push each other but when it comes to race day, we all want to win.

“Matt’s never won up here in Queanbeyan and my younger brother [Shaun] was in really good form last year before he got injured a week before the race so they’re both pretty keen to knock me off.”

Chris Hargreaves however, has no plans of handing over his Queanbeyan Gift crown without a fight. Last year’s victory was something of a breakthrough victory for the Werribee based runner and marked his first big win on the Gift circuit.

“It was definitely good to win up in Queanbeyan last year,” he said. “I’d bought a house two days before the race so the prize money definitely came in handy. It’s one of the biggest races in Australia so it’s a good one to get.

“That was the first big race I won in my career and since then I’ve won three more races down in Victoria so it’s worked out quite well.”

After winning from a mark of nine metres last year, Hargreaves has received just 7.25 metres from the handicapper this time around. Matt Hargreaves will break from 6.25m while Shaun Hagreaves will run from 7.5m.

Sydney young gun Patrick Falkye is this year’s backmarker and will run off three metres while Sierra Leone Olympian Bangalie Keita (3.75m) is also highly regarded.

But while this year’s Gift will boast plenty of talent from across the country, Chris Hargreaves was confident his main challenger would more likely emerge from closer to home.

“I like to think one of our guys, either one of my brothers or someone who trains with us down in Victoria will take it out,” he said. “I think us Victorians have a pretty good history with the Queanbeyan Gift and we’d like to keep the trophy down here.”

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