After being restricted to a hospital bed during last year’s Stawell Gift, former race official Bob Cashin is healthy and looking forward to attending his 70th Stawell Gift in 71 years.
Mr Cashin underwent an eight hour operation to remove a stomach cancer last year, it would have been his 70th consecutive Stawell Gift.
His first involvement at the town’s biggest sporting event was at nine-years-old, selling records with his cousin.
“It was in 1946, the first Stawell Gift after World War II,” Mr Cashin said.
“I loved everything about the Stawell Gift, I knew I wanted to race in it one day.”
His wish was granted in 1953 when Mr Cashin ran in his first Stawell Gift under the lights on Easter Saturday.
He participated in 25 Stawell Gifts, reaching the final in the 500 metres and the final in the 800 metres.
He also ran twice in the Grampians Stakes two mile race.
“Running is my life, it has been from when I was nine-years-old,” Mr Cashin said.
“I remember my uncle used to wake me up at 6am every morning for thirty years and I used to run to the bridge at the Grange Golf Club.”
Mr Cashin said he reached the pinnacle of his running career when he was made an honorary life member at the centenary Stawell Gift in 1977.
“It was such an honour, this event has a special place in my heart and now it will forever with this,” he said.
But after he finished running his health deteriorated.
Mr Cashin was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent treatment for eight years, but still remained closely associated with his favourite sporting event in that time.
“I took up timekeeping, I still wanted to be at the Stawell Gift, I could not bear being away from it,” he said.
“Thanks needs to be given to my wife Pam and my children Paul, David, Tina and Donna and the doctors who have taken care of me.”
A passion for sport runs in the family, Mr Cashin’s two sons play off a golf handicap of four and nine, while his daughter Donna won the Australian Championships for disabled bowlers and was ranked three in the country. His wife Pam was also a state high jump champion.
Mr Cashin said he was looking forward to his 70th Stawell Gift, which had grown enormously since 1946.
“Back then they were racing for five pounds, now it is $40,000, I wish I was still racing now,” he said.
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