Brendan Cole celebrates winning the Burnie Gift.ACT-based, Victorian runner Brendan Cole won the 2012 Burnie men’s gift yesterday in one of the closest finishes of the prestigious footrace.

Cole, 30, trained by Canberra coach Matt Beckenham, beat the only Tasmanian runner in the final field – Highclere’s Edward Gates – by three one-thousandths of a second after judges studied a photo of the finish for several minutes to determine the winner.

Victorian Adrian Mott was third and Cole’s winning time was 12.13 seconds.

Cole ran from a mark of 5.25 metres, Gates 8m, and Mott 4.75m.

A specialist 400m runner and a five-time Australian 400m hurdles champion, Cole said it was a tense wait for the official result.

”I honestly finished and didn’t think I had won it,” he said.

”I saw green out in front and I didn’t think it was mine.

”My coach told me that I was behind just before the finish line and just after but somehow I managed to dip on the line- so wow, it’s amazing.”

Cole said his Burnie Gift victory and $10,000 prizemoney was a great start to the new year, with his sights set on the London Olympics.

”We came down here for training and used the three carnivals to get some racing under our belts and we’ve had a big week.

”To finish it off like this is a dream – it’s awesome,” he said.

Cole said he nearly did not run in the 120m gift and had done little speed work in his training.

”I was going to focus on the 400m, which is my distance, and honestly I wasn’t going to run this morning,” he said.

He recorded two seconds and a fourth place at Latrobe and Devonport, with the Burnie Gift his first victory.

Gates would have been devastated to find the result went against him after looking the likely winner only metres from the finish line.

Coached by John McLaren, the 20-year-old has had five seconds before the gift and finished runner-up in the Devonport Gift as well.

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