Twenty-year-old sprinter Makis Loukeris has sealed a remarkable fourth place finish in the final of the renowned Stawell Gift foot race, with his next goal being to one day win it outright and become the first Greek to ever do it.

Makis, who migrated with his family to Victoria in 2013 from the town of Lixouri in Kefalonia as a ten year old, is riding high after the most impressive result wherein he made the final of the presitgious race.

The event took place this past Easter long weekend (30 March – 1 April) with the competitors participating in heats, semi-finals and then ultimately the final.

The talented runner was the youngest finalist this year, showcasing very positive signs in his early sprinting career which properly began six years ago when he joined the NESP race team and began training under a proper coach.

“He really wanted to make the final, and he achieved his goal,” his father Giorgos Loukeris told Neos Kosmos.

“I have witnessed all the efforts and work he has put towards this event, having started in June of 2023 with daily training in the mornings and evenings. He made a lot of sacrifices and I feel incredibly proud of Makis’ achievement.”

Loukeris explained that working with a team and under coach Craig Muir has helped him develop upon the speed he already possessed.

Loukeris with coach Greg Mui. Photo: Supplied

“Makis was always naturally fast. His coach has helped him tremendously with his technique, which combined with his natural proclivity to sport and exercise as well as his training, has helped him improve to the point where he is now,” he said.

“Certainly, his best results are still to come.”

Loukeris, who was born in Australia before returning to Greece with his family at six years old, elaborated on the schedule of running events that lead up to the Stawell Gift race.

“The events, which are under the umbrella of the Victorian Athletic League, commence from November and every weekend up until Catholic Easter, they do athletic meets in various areas all across Victoria,” he said.

The sprinters build up their handicap at these weekend events ahead of the final push, which is the Stawell Gift Race.

“Your performances at the prior events play a role in organising you into the relevant heats, which are followed by the semi-finals and eventually the final,”

“So, it is a long journey for the ultimate payoff which is the Stawell Gift Race.”

Makis has participated at every edition of this race since 2016, competing in the U18 categories when he was younger, and it has been a very rewarding activity for the father and son duo.

Loukeris as seen on TV during Stawell Gift. Photo: Supplied

“We have loved every experience at Stawell, particularly due to its reputation as the biggest foot race in Australia,” Loukeris said.

“The fact that people from all across Australia come to compete there gives it more prestige and Makis dreamed from a young age of competing in the final which he fortunately has now done.”

With that goal accomplished, Loukeris said his son has already set himself his next target.

“In the interviews he had after the race, they mentioned no Greek has ever won which has now put the idea in his head to win and thus become the first Greek to do so.”

In addition to that, the young runner, who is in his second year studying osteopathy at RMIT, will continue his athletics training in the 100 metres as he hopes to one day join a national team which Loukeris said was his son’s “ultimate goal”.

Outside of his running, the active athlete is also a referee for Football Victoria (having officiated last year’s NPL U21s final), tying him to his father (a former referee in the Second and Third divisions of Greece who also officiates semi-professional games in Victoria).

The future is exceedingly bright for the young sprinter and it seems just a matter of time before we see him produce his next major achievements.