FORMER Colac district runner Adam Coote has added a Stawell Gift placing to his athletics resume.
The AFL boundary umpire from Pomborneit made the most of his outmarker status – he started off 11 metres – to hold on for third spot in the 131st 120-metre dash at Stawell’s Central Park.
Ballarat’s Matt Wiltshire, off eight metres, won the time-honoured Stawell sprint in 12.219 seconds on Monday.
Melbourne’s Doug Greenough, off 9.5 metres, was runner-up in 12.320 seconds with Coote third in 12.382 seconds.
Coote, 29, was competing in the gift for the second time after developing his craft as a middle-distance runner.
His podium finish meant he set a new career-best – he made the semi-finals in 2011 – and ensured he finished a busy Easter long weekend with $3500 prizemoney.
Coote said he was disappointed after crossing the finish line as cameras swamped Wiltshire, whose grandfather was favourite for the 1958 gift but tore a hamstring before the final.
“Mixed emotions to be honest. When you make the final you want to win it,” he said.
“I had the third-fastest heat time, so it probably stacks up I’d finish third in the end.
“I would’ve liked to have gone a bit better.
“I had set myself to make the final and hopefully win it, but it didn’t happen. But I can’t sneeze at running third in the Stawell Gift.”
Coote officiated the Brisbane Lions-Carlton AFL clash in Brisbane on Thursday night before heading to Stawell, via Melbourne, for heats on Saturday.
He won heat 19 in 12.208 seconds and earned his place in the final by winning semi-final four in 12.248 seconds.
Frustratingly, replicating his heat performance would have earned him one of the most sought-after titles in Australian athletics.
Coote said he felt “pretty good” leading into the final, but admitted combining endurance training, as part of his boundary umpire duties, and sprinting was not ideal preparation.
He applied to have the weekend off umpiring but the AFL required him to travel to Brisbane.
“There’s no doubt a combination of the umpire training you need to do and umpiring games doesn’t mean you’re in peak sprinting condition,” he said.
“I love boundary umpiring and love being a part of this Stawell carnival. Hopefully I can continue to mix the two and hopefully continue to turn up fit and firing.”