By YVONNE O’HARA
At 16, Mykayla Robertdoing what many adult athletes can only dream about.
The Roxburgh Area School year 12 pupil is to represent New Zealand at the International Federation of Muay Thai AmateurMuay Thai Championships, which are being held in Bangkok, Thailand, from August 3 to 11.
She will compete in the 57kg junior girl 16- to 17-year-old division.
However, Mykayla and her supporters need to raise the $3500 for airfares, accommodation and other expenses needed to get there.
They are running raffles and cake stalls, and are considering holding a Muay Thai demonstration to raise the money.
She said there were 25 people in New Zealand selected to attend the championships.
“But I am the only one from the South Island,” Mykayla said.
She admitted to being more than a little nervous about the event. “I am freaking out a bit as there is only a couple of months to go.”
In addition to the championships, she has to attend three training camps, including one in Thailand, which begins a week before the championships.
Mykayla began learning Muay Thai when she was 15, and has been training under coach Sue Glassey, who is a Muay Thai exponent of international standing.
“I started mainly because it’s a new sport and not many people did it,” Mykayla said.
“I figured I would try it out and, if I liked it, I would keep going. I have been told I have a talent for it.”
Ms Glassey said she had worked hard both physically and mentally to reach that level.
“She is a role model for other kids,” Ms Glassey said. “This is the first time anyone from Roxburgh has gone there.”
Mykayla said she spent 10 or 11 hours week training after school and at weekends.
“Sue told me I would have to work hard,” she said. “I enjoy it and I like the thrill of it. I get to meet people and that is part of the fun.”
In addition to her training, she ensures her schoolwork is done, although she will have to take three weeks off while she is overseas.
She said her friends were enthusiastic about her success.
Any advice for anyone interested in taking up the sport?
“I would tell them to go for it, as it boosts confidence and you meet some pretty awesome people,” she said.
Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is a full contact combat sport which uses standing, striking and clinching techniques.