Aspiring to get onto the world stage, 14-year-old Maria Petrakis is a taekwondo champion with success in the sport beckoning at her feet.
With her parents support from the age of seven, Petrakis took to taekwondo and is now training for her chance at Olympic fame at Tokyo 2020.
Whilst most people her age are occupied with many of life’s pleasures, Petrakis finds her own pleasure in her strict training regime – which includes four days of a combined workout of sparing and speed and two days on the running track.
“I’ve learnt respect, discipline and how to be fit. I love doing it… I feel it [the impacts on the body], but once I’m on the mat I don’t feel it any more, it’s all adrenalin on the mats. I’ve learnt how to be stronger in my mind because … my yiayia gave me that, she was always strong,” she said.
Perched at number one in her age group nationally, she has been selected to compete at the World Cadet Championships, in Muju, Korea in August after winning the Australian Open in June.
Along with her yiayia she finds inspiration from her coach, Nick Tsioulos, who continues to challenge her both psychologically and physically.
“He’s always been by my side and I’ve always loved having him coach me. He motivates me, he never gives up on me, he always helps me when I’m doing something wrong and he makes me laugh all the time.”
Petrakis has already been asked to train with the Australian Institute of Sport twice this year, where she was joined by the Thai national team.
The determined youngster has set her bar high with the 2020 Olympics and is focused on maintaining her training and fitness.
“I’m not going to give up on anything now because I’ve got massive goals in my head that I want to accomplish. So far this year I’ve done four competitions, that’s all of the competitions so far, I’ve won them all.”
The level-headed teen maintains her education is her priority – she won’t train without having completed all of her studies – where she dreams of one day involving herself with sports science or teaching.
The prominent youngster is building a CV which boasts four gold medals and one silver at competitions since December 2014.