GOLDEN GIFT: Ipswich’s Miriam Peni celebrates her winning run in the 120m Ladies Australia Day Gold Coast Gift with Michelle Mackey and Toea Wisil.
GOLDEN GIFT: Ipswich’s Miriam Peni celebrates her winning run in the 120m Ladies Australia Day Gold Coast Gift with Michelle Mackey and Toea Wisil. Contributed

Miriam wins Gold Coast Gift

IPSWICH teenage sprint sensation Miriam Peni is setting her sights on the Queensland Junior Athletics Championships after a golden run at the annual Australia Day Gift sprint on the Gold Coast.

With rain belting down, the Ipswich and District Athletic Club member won in 13.53sec, running the 120m race off a handicap of 8.5m in front of a packed crowd.

The 16-year-old surged past Michelle Mackey and held off Papua New Guinea's elite sprinter Toea Wisil to make it her second gift win in 14 months having won the 110m Noosa Gift Ladies Invitational in 2014.

"I've been training and working hard on my technique for sprints lately and only did the Gift to see how well I was travelling," Miriam said.

"I didn't think I would come first in the race; it was such a surprise."

The Commonwealth Games prospect had a year to remember in 2015, winning silver in the under-16 100m at the Australian Junior Track and Field Championships and making the final of the 100m and 200m while representing PNG at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.

Determined to improve her times, Miriam worked hard with her coach Vic Pascoe in the lead-up to the Gold Coast Gift.

"To win down there (Gold Coast) was a great way for me to start the year and a huge boost in confidence," she said.

Miriam will be able to put that new-found confidence to the test at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre next week.

The Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student will contest the 100m and 200m at the Queensland Junior Athletics Championships, where she hopes to make strong improvements on the track and qualify for nationals.

Her current personal best in 100m is 12.26sec and 25.19sec in 200m.

"I feel I can go faster and I have a great opportunity to prove that at the Queensland titles," she said.

"I didn't do so well last year at states so I'm determined to pick myself up and do better.

"Hopefully I can come away with a medal, which would be great if I could."

Redbank Plains' Nicholas Grant ran second in the 120m Novice Australia Day Gold Coast.

The Ipswich and District Athletic Club member ran off 8.5m, but was run down by back marker Bradley Edwards in 12.63sec off 2.5m with Aaron Pateman 3rd off 6m.

Liz Melrose competed in the heats of the 120m Novice and 120m Ladies Gift, but missed out on a finals berth.