Otis Gowa is no stranger to coming through tough situations.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a disease that he successfully beat though surgery, returning to training last March.
Last night he claimed victory in a battle of another kind.
Before Gowa made his way out onto the track for last nights 100m final at the Australian National Championships, Otis Gowa’s coach, Darryl Wohlsen had a simple mantra for his athlete, You beat cancer, the 100 metres is nothing.
The rank outsider behind more famous names such as Matt Shirvington and Patrick Johnson, Gowa stunned the crowd by winning what has proved to be a highly controversial race.
A false start was the result of the first attempt to get the sprinters on their way, attributed to the vastly experienced Shirvington.
At the second attempt Shirvington could be seen looking unsteady in his set position and when the gun fired Johnson assumed there would be a second false start.
However the second shot signifying a false start never came and Johnson was left training by five metres plus by the half way point.
As they finished, it was Gowa first in 10.63 seconds, Jacob Groth second in 10.67, Isaac Ntiamoah third in 10.68 and Shirvington fourth in 10.70.
Johnson was eighth and last in 10.81.
Protests were immediately lodged by both Shirvington and Johnson but were rejected firstly by the track referee and later on that night, by a jury who examined at length video footage of the race.
Gowa was in bed when news that his victory had been confirmed filtered through.
Gowa, whose mother is a native of the Torres Straits and father from Ghana, is a product of the Indigenous Athlete Jump Start to London 2012 program aimed at increasing representation of Indigenous peoples in Australian Olympic teams.
Gowa’s reward for his stirling performace in Brisbane could be a place in the Australian Olympic 4x100m team but for now the 24 year old is just savouring the atmosphere,
I’m not sure how I’ll celebrate. It’s a bit unsure. But I don’t think there’s been a (upset) result like this before.