A SPORTING icon on the Mount Gambier calendar has been put on hold for at least 12 months.
The Mount Gambier RSL Gift will not be held this summer, despite it being originally placed on the South Australian Athletic League’s professional running circuit roster at the start of the season.
Gift committee chairman, Lionel Stingers confirmed yesterday that the one day carnival would not be held this year.
“It is most disappointing to have to cancel this year’s carnival, but we’re not ready in terms of committee personnel or prizemoney support to make it a success,” he said.
“As a committee, we were unanimous in wanting the carnival to be an absolute success or not run it all.
“Ultimately we chose the latter, but in the same breath we have already started working on resurrecting the carnival in 2013, most likely the same time frame, which would be the first Saturday in December, although that will be up to the SAAL, which sets suitable dates for all of its carnivals,” Mr Stingers said.
This year’s Mount Gambier Gift was originally scheduled for this Saturday at Vansittart Park, but has since been replaced by the inaugural Sacred Hearts College Gift, which will be held in Adelaide on Sunday.
Professional athletic carnivals in Mount Gambier are dated back to as early as 1871 and the first known athletic club was formed in 1876 and over the course of time, many similar clubs have come and gone.
In the early part of the 20th century, athletic carnivals were extremely popular, both on New Year’s Day and St Patrick’s Day, although by the 1970s and 1980s, enthusiasm appeared to wane somewhat and eventually the carnivals folded.
But in 2001, a renewed management committee took over the re-establishment of a gift carnival and for the last 11 years, the event has provided the SAAL with an inavaluable lead-up event to its premier professional foot race, the Bay Sheffield.
In recent years, the Mount Gambier Gift carried a purse of $10,000, including a $7000 first prize to the winner, making it the second richest race of its kind in South Australia.
Mr Stingers said he and fellow committee members, which includes Greg Muller, Denise Richardson, Tony Kelly, Paul Jenner, David McPherson, Loraine Baron, Dianne Boult, Bernadette Douglas, Rodney Summers, Ian Robertson, Liz Robertson and Robin Gorringe are working hard to ensure the Mount Gambier Gift is back on the SAAL calendar for the 2013-14 track season.
The only known withdrawals from the 2011-12 management committee are former chairman, Steve Maxwell and Morris Dickins.
“We had solid support from the Mount Gambier Little Athletics Centre for this year’s carnival but we needed more coporate support as well and that is an area we will be working hard to ensure the 2013 carnival goes ahead as planned and is a success as expected,” he said.
The Mount Gambier Gift Carnival has earnt a place on the Mount Gambier sporting calendar over the last 11 years and it will be a sad occasion if the event is lost for any more than 12 months.