Two years after hitting rock bottom in his running career, Matthew Harvey has returned to prominence in the Victorian Athletic League with a scintillating victory at the 2018 Keilor Gift on Saturday night.
Harvey feared that he might not be able to get back to his best when he badly tore a hamstring in a race at Bendigo two years ago, but he scorched the track at Keilor Recreation Reserve to win the heat, semi-final and final and be crowned a gift champion for the second time in his career and first time at Keilor.
“To get back to running fast after that injury was a bit of a challenge, so it’s been a while but I’m pumped to be back,” Harvey said.
“It was definitely one of the worst injuries I could’ve had, it was a high grade hamstring tear, so to come back from that took a fair bit.
“It means heaps to win this big race.
“You want to win the good historic races.”
Harvey entered the Keilor Gift on the back of solid form to start the year.
The Glenhuntly Athletics Club product finished third at Ballarat a week earlier, but it only added to a string of frustrating near misses for him in finals.
“I ran some of my fastest times of the year, so I was feeling pretty good,” Harvey said.
“Any other week, there’s a heap of guys that could do something, but I felt like I was in the mix.
“I’ve been in a lot of finals in the last few years and lost by 0.01 or 0.03, so to actually get the win at Keilor is hugely satisfying.”
Harvey was not going to let another opportunity slip.
The Edithvale resident was able to draw on his finals experience and use it to get the better of the competition this time around.
He finished the six-man 120 metre handicapped final in first place in a time of 12.588 seconds, ahead of Rupert Lugo in 12.631 and Hamish Adams in 12.689.
“I won both my heat and my semi, so I knew I was running well,” Harvey said.
“The final was my fastest time of the day, so I was pretty pumped with that.
“I reckon I ran half the length of the oval in celebration.”
Harvey dedicated the win to his wife Tanjil, eight month old daughter Zara and his mates who left another event to attend his final.
Harvey said despite the time and energy that goes into raising a young child, Tanjil has given him the green light to continue with his training and pursue his running dreams.
“I’m a financial analyst, so it kind of keeps me sane to get back on the track after a long day at work.”
The 120 metre women’s final was taken out by Jody Richards in a time of 14.237.
Richards crossed the line ahead of Megan McMahon (14.259) and Mikayla Round (14.263). Michael Chimenton claimed the restricted 400m final in 49.335, ahead of Chiara Dickins (49.808) and James Mistarz (50.353).
Martine Beer emerged victorious in the women’s 400m final in 56.736, in front of Kim McDonough (56.742) and Elisha Ezard (57.359).
The 400m open final was taken out by Darren Arthur in 48.768, from Greg Mitchell (49.133) and David Page (49.143).
In form Jacob Nolan made it three finals wins in a row, claiming the 800m open final in 1:58.584.
Richard Wearmouth was the winner in the 300m masters in 36.769.
In the longer races, Chloe Sproule took out the 1600m frontmarkers in 4:20.810 and Troy Atkins won the 1600 backmarkers in 4:14.502.