Speed queens hit the track

THEY’RE both still in high school but Kayla Sadler and Cassie Hopkins will carry hometown hopes on their young shoulders in Saturday’s $16,000 Queanbeyan Women’s Gift.

With no local entrants in this year’s Men’s Gift, Hopkins and Sadler represent Queanbeyan’s only two chances of taking out one of the city’s two marquee sprint races.

The 15-year-old Sadler and 14-year-old Hopkins will also be two of the youngest entrants in what is Australia’s richest women’s footrace.

But while Hopkins is entering the Gift for the first time, Sadler has past form having made the semi-finals in last year’s event.

 “I ran in the Gift last year and it was an awesome experience,” Sadler said. “It was overwhelming really. I was really surprised when I made it through to the semi-finals and I’ve moved forward on my mark this year so I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’d be really happy with a semi-final again this year but it’s my goal, my dream really to get through to the final.”

After being given a start of seven metres last year, Sadler has received a little extra help from the handicapper for Saturday’s race where she’ll break from 8.75m.

The Braidwood High student and Queanbeyan Little Athletics representative is the current ACT under-16s state champion in the 100m and 200m.

This year’s Women’s Gift has attracted 32 runners including London Olympian reigning Australian 100m champion Melissa Breen who will start from scratch.

While Breen will be conceding up to 15 metres to her less fancied opponents, the Canberra-based sprinter proved her ability to run out the full 120m after taking out the Stawell Gift from scratch in April.

Last year’s winner Kara Bull from Maitland will also return to defend her crown.

The Queanbeyan Women’s Gift heats will commence at 11.45am at Queanbeyan Town Park with semi-finals at 1.50pm. The final will take place at 4.05pm. 

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