Prize money remains at $65k for annual Leonora Golden Gift

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Brittany Scott and Emma Philippe during the 2023 Leonora Golden Gift.
Camera IconBrittany Scott and Emma Philippe during the 2023 Leonora Golden Gift. Credit: Amber Lilley/Kalgoorlie Miner

Officials of the annual $65,000 Leonora Golden Gift on June 1-2 have cast a net Australia-wide in their efforts to draw one of the best-ever fields as the program moves into its 22nd instalment.

Event organiser Ross Johnson said lucrative prizemoney, boosted from $50,000 to $65,000 across just three years, was “life-changing” for many athletes and ensured the Golden Gift retained its standing as the richest mile event in Australia.

But Johnson said he was content to maintain the event as a largely all-Australian field.

“We love showcasing our Australian competitors with good (prize) money,” Johnson said.

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“We could bring out a (high-profile) Kenyan runner, but no one would really know who it was and a lot of these guys really need it, as far as funding for their other events.

“It doesn’t come easily for the (Leonora) shire to put that money up every year, but the Olympic athletes have played a big role in boosting it to what it is now.”

Johnson said the 2024 Elite Mile field would likely be finalised in the next two weeks.

The Leonora Golden Gift’s origins date back to 2003, when a four-day “street party” was framed to celebrate the official launch of a $2 million upgrade to the main drag earlier that year.

It proved to be a resounding success and within seven months the Leonora Mile, as it was then known, had boosted its prizemoney to $51,000.

The breakdown of stakes — $25,500 for both a men’s and women’s event — surpassed the famous Stawell Gift purse, which was $50,000.

Prizemoney for the inaugural Gift was just $3000, with Australian distance legend Steve Moneghetti the special guest at the 2004 event.

Ballarat-born Moneghetti won a gold medal in the marathon at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

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