Murray Goodwin will return to Central Park this Easter for the first time since his Stawell Gift victory in 2015.
The Queensland sprinter is excited to come back to Stawell and said this year should be a “cracking installment” of Australia’s richest footrace.
For Goodwin and many other athletes the Stawell Gift is so much more than a race.
“When you walk through those gates at Central Park you really do get the feeling that your part of something truly iconic to the Australian cultural landscape,” he said.
“I can't wait to get back on the track and continue to try and play my small part in the event.”
Many athletes will be coming off what Goodwin described as the most talked about domestic season in a number of years.
“You're going to get a lot of athletes at the peak of their performance capabilities which will make for fantastic racing,” he said.
“I have the feeling it could be a backmarkers’ year.
“I'm really liking what I see with athletes like Hale, Stubbs and Dunmall, and as they prepare for the Commonwealth Games and other major championships they will be difficult to hold out.”
You're going to get a lot of athletes at the peak of their performance capabilities which will make for fantastic racingMurray Goodwin
As for Goodwin, the 2017 season is just about getting out there and competing again after he missed last season through injury.
“For now I'm just trying to build up my consistency of training and racing,” he said.
“I'll just have to wait and see how the season progresses before setting any specific goals.”
Running off 6.5 metres, Goodwin was among the most impressive semi-final winners on Easter Monday two years ago, when he clocked 12.07 seconds in his semi-final victory and looked to have a bit more up his sleeve.
Goodwin stopped the clock at 12.10 seconds, ahead of Houlihan, 12.27 seconds, and Brendan Matthews, 12.37 seconds, in the final of the 2015 event.
Following his win he was struck down with injury, and since then Goodwin has not raced at Stawell.
Goodwin’s handicap will be pulled since winning in 2015.
Handicaps for the Gift will be released early April and athlete registration closes March 3.
The Stawell Gift carnival starts on Saturday, April 15 ahead of the final, which is run on Easter Monday, April 17.