Nearly two weeks since the running of the 137th Stawell Gift, the two big winners have reflected on their life changing victories.
Pre-final favourites Jacob Despard and Elizabeth ‘EJ’ Forsyth wrote their names in the history books with their comfortable victories on Easter Monday at Central Park.
Men’s winner Despard dominated all weekend, recording the fastest time in the heats and semis and eventually going on to win the final as the backmarker.
The 21-year-old said he had to readjust to everyday life soon after winning Australia’s richest footrace.
“I stayed in Stawell on Monday night, drove home Tuesday and was back to work by Wednesday so I was brought back to reality pretty quickly,” he said.
“Heading straight back to work was a bit disappointing but I was a bit of a hero among my workmates when I did go back.
“My social media accounts have been going insane since winning.”
Despard had been trying to win the Gift since 2013, winning on his sixth attempt.
He said he believes his life has been “changed for the better” since his victory.
“Winning the Stawell Gift has always been a dream of mine and has been such an important race to me which is why I have kept coming back,” he said.
“To finally achieve it I feel like I have got a place at Stawell now.”
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The new title took a little longer to sink in for 21-year-old Forsyth.
“It took a few days for me to really comprehend what I had achieved,” she said.
“It wasn’t until I was at work a few days later when everyone was congratulating me that it really dawned on me.
“At the airport on the way back home a little boy – about eight or nine years old – came up to me and said congratulations which was really special.”
The Queensland university student said she has come to grasp the gravity of her win.
“It is watched by people across the country and it is such a prestigious event,” she said.
“It was and still is so exciting to call myself a winner of the Stawell Gift.”
Both victors pocketed $40,000 in prizemoney but the Despard family left Stawell with an added bonus.
“My Dad had a bet on me to win which won him a little over $6000,” Despard said.
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Both winners have expressed interest to defend their titles in 2019.
“I will definitely be back – I have already spoken to some mates and told them to keep their schedule clear over Easter,” Despard said.
“Me and my team will be there again, I am really looking forward to it,” Forsyth said.