MEL BREEN may not have won the Queanbeyan Gift, but the carnival was not without its highlights. The sprinter, with fellow Olympian and training partner Lauren Boden, coaches a number of athletes, with one of her charges, Nathan McNab, winning the 70-metre sprint.
It was the tightest of finishes, but the photo showed the Marist student beat fellow 15-year-old Montana Walters from Sydney, and Gift winner Dean Scarff in the shortest race of the day.
''It was a very close finish, so we were definitely not sure who won, but he clearly dipped very well at the line,'' Breen said, who watched it with interest just before her final race.
It was a confidence boosting win for McNab, who heads to Tasmania next weekend for the Nationals after training under Breen for just 12 months.
''Nath was definitely my highlight of the day … It's wonderful to see him win,'' Breen said.
''He's had a massive day, lots and lots of racing, all up seven runs he's had over 120 and 70 [metres], so to come out and do that in the final run of the day is very impressive, he's had such a great day.
''It reminds me of what I did in 2007. I think I had about eight runs and came and won the women's Gift, so it's great for him to do that … it's wonderful to see him so happy and know that the training's paying off.''
McNab paid tribute to his coach, crediting her expertise for his rapid rise.
''She's the greatest coach, she's so good, she knows exactly how to change everything in my race, she makes me run so much quicker,'' he said.
Breen didn't leave the carnival empty handed, taking out third place in the backmarkers handicap 100 metres, and $400 for making the final of the Gift in her first races after the Olympics.
''I'm really happy with today, [I'm] very close to being back where I was at Stawell,'' she said of her time in the 120-metre Gift. ''It's very positive to be back there.''
Former five-time Australian 100 metres champion Josh Ross won the men's backmarkers handicap as he aims to make the World Championship team for Russia.
Having decided he was not at the stage of his training to run a full 120 metres, he chose not to enter the Gift.