A Sunshine Hospital midwife swapped the birthing suite for running track to claim second place in this year’s Stawell Gift.

Pamela Austin ran her season-best time of 13.964 seconds to take the runner’s-up trophy behind winner Elizabeth Forsyth (13.685).

The result ranks highly among Austin’s career achievements, but she admits it almost never came to be.

“I actually hadn’t raced for four years,” she said. “I was a beauty therapist and went back to study midwifery for three years. I found that with studying and working, something had to give and it was my training, so I stopped racing.”

But time away from the sport reignited
Austin’s passion.

“Last year, I went to my old coach’s house to watch the Gift and I was nearly crying,” she said. “It really ignited the fire in the belly again.”

While she had strong belief that she’d still be able to compete at the top level, Austin said her rapid success was a shock.

“I did my first meet at Sandringham in November and made the final there and that gave me some confidence,” she said. “Leading into Stawell, I knew I was in the mix, but I didn’t think I’d make the final, which was my main goal.

“Crossing the line first in my semi-final was my dream come true, but crossing the line in second place in the final was beyond belief.”

The unexpected success has left her hungry to go one better next year.

“I’ve got about a month off now, then I’ll be starting up training again,” she said.

“My dream came true last week, but winning the Gift would top that dream. I’m certainly going to try again.”