A mix of happiness and pride washed over Grassmere teenager Layla Watson after she won back-to-back Warrnambool Gifts on Saturday.
Locked in a photo finish with runner-up Nicole Berridge, Watson, who was the front-marker off 8.5, was made to wait before judges announced her the winner with a time of 13.84 seconds in a -1.6 head wind.
"I thought I got second, but I wasn't disappointed or anything," Watson said. "I was really happy with how I ran but to know I won, it's nice to win your home Gift."
The 17-year-old, who also won the 2021 Warrnambool Gift, said she hadn't expected to win again this year. She said her plan was to the meeting as preparation for next week's Athletics Australia All-Schools track and field championships in Adelaide.
"I was really relaxed," she said. "I wasn't coming here expecting to win.
"When I looked at my semi, that made me nervous because I knew the back-markers especially they are all really decent runners and really fast girls."
Watson was in ripping form leading into the final, with her 14-second-flat heat run and 13.84 semi-final race the fastest across the field, which boasted Olympians Ellie Beer and Jessica Thornton.
"It was a tough field," Watson said. "I was hoping to run my best and see where that got me."
The Warrnambool College student said the experience of winning a Warrnambool Gift before helped her approach the final feeling as relaxed as possible.
"I was nervous but I was like 'I've got nothing to lose so I'll just go and have fun'," she said.
Watson will depart for Nationals on Thursday, where she will run in the 100m, 200m and 400m events as well as a possible relay. She said getting personal best times was her goal, with a finals berth a bonus.
Watson won't run at Sunday's Terang Gift but instead will be on the sidelines cheering on her DPS (Duynhoven Perry Sprinting) squad teammates.
The teenager thanked DPS for their support during the Warrnambool Gift.
"I couldn't have done it without them," she said.
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