Bring it on, says Stawell Gift champion

ANDREW Robinson knows the eyes of the Stawell Gift world will be on him this Easter, and he can't wait.

The 21-year-old sprinter from Riverside enters the 133rd edition of Australia's richest footrace as reigning champion, and is well prepared for what that means.

``This year is going to be really different for me, as last year I went in with it being a `no pressure' situation, as I wasn't favourite or really seen as a chance to win,'' the Ray Quarrell-trained runner said.

``Now, as last year's winner, people are starting to question and wonder what I'm doing every step of the way, so there will be a few more eyes watching me, which is something I will have to balance.

``You have to accept it all, as you can't hide from the fact that people are going to put that pressure on you, and you just take it on board as a compliment that they think you are this runner that they make you out to be.

``In my opinion, that gives you confidence going forward that you are rated as such, so I just have to fully embrace that.''

Preparation wise, Robinson couldn't be happier leading in to his 120-metre engagement in western Victoria.

For the first time, he has had an injury-free season, which included a ``solid'' Christmas Carnivals series and topped it off by winning the 200 and 400 metres at the Tasmanian athletics championships, his first state titles.

He also competed in the national championships for the first time, which gave him ``valuable preparation''.

He said he would be approaching Stawell, he will run off a handicap of 3.5 metres, like it was ``any other race''.

``Winning last year has given me the desire to win it again.

``It has given me the confidence going in, as you've done it before and you know what to do to prepare yourself, but you can't put too much expectation on yourself, as you can set yourself up for failure.

``Any pressure going in, I won't really feel it, as I have ticked the box, I have won it and have done what everyone is going there to do. So I feel that I will be running with a lot of pressure off my shoulders, sort of a no-expectation weekend.''

Robinson will have some formal speaking duties over the Easter weekend, such as the calcutta and call of the card on Friday, as well as at the fashions on the field on Saturday, extra responsibilities he said won't be a distraction.

He will also run in the Gift Winners Gift, against winners of seven other gifts from around the country, including Burnie Gift victor Adam Coote, next Monday after the main event.

The Stawell Gift carnival will be held from April 18-21.

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