THE Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals are under starter's orders and Launceston sprinter Andrew Robinson should be one of the fastest out of the blocks.
The annual festival of running and cycling begins at Rosebery today and it's a scary thought for Robinson's rivals that he is feeling better than ever.
The 20-year-old from Riverside will be aiming to back up from his success-filled last season, which saw him win the Latrobe Gift and the 400 metres at Burnie, as well as the pre-carnivals 400 metre win in that city.
He became the first Tasmanian to win the prestigious Keilor Gift and overall also claimed another nine podium places, five fourth places, two fifths and was named Australian Athletic Confederation's national male sprinter of the year.
A hamstring strain sidelined him for a short time last month, but he bounced back to win the Central Coast Gift and the 70 metres and the 400 metres at West Park in the past fortnight.
``I'm feeling better than I was this time last year. The couple of wins that I've had have given me the confidence in my body that it can stand up,'' said Robinson, who is trained by Hobart's Ray Quarrell.
``I've gone back in my handicap compared to last year, and I'm hoping to step up another level at Christmas with the mainland guys coming down, so hopefully I can give them a run for their money.
``I'm just looking to be consistent for the whole series like I was last year and I'm looking forward to the new challenge of being a backmarker this year instead of being a middlemarker. Getting to wear the red is a great honour, and I'm looking forward to chasing guys down instead of being chased.''
Robinson felt no pressure being spoken of as one of the ``hot favourites'' going into the series saying: ``I'm just going to go out there and do my best. If the results come, that's great, if not, I'm having fun doing it.''
He believed Victorian trio Matt, Chris and Shaun Hargreaves as well as Hobart's Luke Whitney and Jacob Despard would be his greatest threats in the series.
Robinson will run off the 5.5 metre mark today, in what he described as a ``great hit-out'' before the North-West carnivals.