Talented Mackenzie Manev feels on top of the world … literally.
The quietly spoken student from Good Samaritan Catholic College at Hinchinbrook is making a big noise on the international aerobics stage and is preparing to take on the sport’s best in Phoenix, Arizona, later this month.
It’s an incredible achievement by the 12-year-old athlete who only 18-months-ago almost gave the sport away following the death of her grandad and biggest supporter David.
The Year 7 student said his passing left a huge hole in her life and it took months of determination, courage and support from her family to regain her passion for her sport.
Mackenzie will wear a purple ribbon on her leotard in honour of her Pa, who died of pancreatic cancer, when she competes at the International Aerobic Championships at the end of this month which she said reminds her that he is right beside her.
“Pa was everything to me, he was always with me, he came to all my competitions and would motivate me to keep going when I was exhausted from all my training and schoolwork,” she said.
“He always believed in me and when he was really sick still came to watch me as often as he could.
“When he died it was very, very tough I really didn’t want to keep going.
“But I know just how proud he was of me and that he wouldn’t want me to give up. I was just so lucky to have him.
“My mum is very supportive. She is a single parent and always tries her best to make sure I have everything I need. She loves me unconditionally, without her I couldn’t do what I do and achieve what I have.”
The young star began gymnastics when she was just 5, then switched to Artistic Gym before taking up aerobics when she was 7.
A year later she was a Level 4 Mini State Champion and went on to become an Australian champion.
Proud mum Deanne said she was so full of admiration and respect for her daughter amidst all the challenges she had faced during her young life.
“She has succeeded in so many areas but still remains so very humble,” Ms Manev said.
“She has the ability to push through anything, be it sickness, injury, a disappointing performance or the loss of her Pa.
“Her dedication and commitment to her sport is amazing, even when she’s sick, injured or overloaded with school work she won’t miss a training session, if need be she will complete her homework in the car on the way to training.
“She really is an amazing young girl and I am so very proud of her.”
Good Samaritan Catholic College Principal James Corcoran echoed her mum’s sentiments saying Mackenzie was a tribute to both her family and school community.
“She is a very unassuming and humble student given her significant sporting achievements and never seeks any limelight,” he said.
“We are very proud of Mackenzie’s selection in an Australian team and she has been given great support from her Year 7 peers and staff.
“MacKenzie has achieved very well academically in her first semester of high school; demonstrating high levels of organisation and commitment to both her studies and to her chosen sporting pathway.”