Herald: Goan born Dhruv Rodrigues Chico wins Australia’s biggest short distance running race

Goan born Dhruv Rodrigues Chico wins Australia’s biggest short distance running race

05 May 2019 05:02am IST

Report by
MARIA DE LOURDES BRAVO DA COSTA RODRIGUES

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05 May 2019 05:02am IST

Report by
MARIA DE LOURDES BRAVO DA COSTA RODRIGUES

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The former football player, who only started running a year ago, clocked a winning time of 12.11 seconds off a 7m mark. MARIA DE LOURDES BRAVO DA COSTA RODRIGUES finds out more about the first time contestant and potential Olympian about this achievement – winning the ‘Stawell Gift’

An event that took place during the Easter weekend in far away Australia has made Goa and Goans proud. The reason, the first-time contestant Dhruv Rodrigues-Chico won the Stawell Gift race, 2019. This is Australia’s oldest, biggest and richest race for short distance running, which is now in its 138 year. It is run over every Easter weekend by the Stawell Athletic Club, with the main race finals on the holiday Monday, at Central Park, Stawell in the Grampian Mountains district of western Victoria. Originally, it was started by the townspeople as an entertainment package to happen over Easter, complete with 'special trains' to the event. It has been raced every year since, except for four years during the Second World War. Today it is the most prestigious footrace in Australia, with a $40,000AUD first prize. The finals are televised live around Australia. And the newspapers give wide coverage to the event.

Dhruv started his sporting career as a football player, like his older brother Adil. Having played as defence and sometimes midfielder, the former footballer, played in the second-tier National Premier Leagues. 

What comes as a surprise is that Dhruv was not yet all interested in running, having concentrated on football. In an interview to the Australian press and television he said:“I got started in athletics by chance: it was at a school athletics carnival, where someone noticed my speed and encouraged me to keep going.” He described the way he started running, and his subsequent wins, “as largely unintentional.” What is noteworthy is that Dhruv started training only from last September and when he participated in November at the first Victorian League running event, he won the Hasting Gifts, 2018.  At that point of time he was not even fully serious about athletics. Later, at the Victorian All Schools’ Athletics competition, where he participated, he was introduced to current coach Tom Morehouse.

What gave him impetus to carry on with his new found love was the winning of the Hastings Gift.“After I took that metre lift [at the Hastings Gift] that’s when I said really ‘Oh I‘ve got to crack down’, because the aim for me wasn’t to win, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to win backing up five races before that race.“But I was happy with the outcome and said 'that’s it, I’m taking it further'.”

Asked by the journalists about his success at the Stawell, he confessed that he did not know about the race and did research to find out what it was all about. "I did my research just to see what it was, feel what it was, and when I read about it I was like 'Geez I want to be a part of this."He decided to participate and started working and practicing for the same. He had to be disciplined and maintain to the rhythm required to win the race. Dhruv gave up late nights, parties and drinks. He mentioned that he attended his friends’ birthday parties driving to the `venue. This way he would not have any drinks.In Australia, a person can lose his life licence, in case he drives after consuming alcohol. For his change in lifestyle, the newspapers labelled him as "reformed party boy”. The 20-year-old was a red-hot favourite after dominating his heat on Saturday with a time of 11.91 seconds and the only men to break the 12 seconds barrier.But, he has big hopes for the future."Hopefully there's a lot more to improve on, I've still got my start to work on just technically - it's a slow build up."Dhruv, who will turn 21 in November, is learning auto technician, second year, before he goes for Master Tech. He gave up Sports science to pursue his passion for cars. He hopes that the win will take him somewhere, "I don’t know if it does, hopefully it does. I would love to represent Australia one day, but you know, I've got a lot to work on.” Let us hope his dreams come true! 

Goa born Dhruv Wilfred do Carmo Rodrigues Chico is the son of Ana Paula Gomes Chico and Dilip Chico brother of Adil. He is the grandson of Conceição Bravo da Costa Gomes and late Agapito Francisco Gomes and Wilma Monteiro Chico and Hugo Chico. Congratulations to the family. Hopefully we have an Olympian in the making!
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