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Calisthenics victories for Whittlesea student

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Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis
Pam Kiriakidis has worked as a journalist at the North Central Review since 2022, with a particular focus on the City of Whittlesea and stories for the Whittlesea Review. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and Communications majoring in journalism and focuses on politics, community, and health with the occasional niche sports story finding its way in front of her.

By Pam Kiriakidis

Making her mark on stage, Whittlesea Secondary College student Mikayla Knight placed first in her categories at the 2023 Calisthenics Victoria solo competition season.

Dressed in a black and gold leotard, Mikayla added her own twist to Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’, matching the up-beat song with her tricks and expression in the 14 years solo north western division two on April 16.

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The 14-year-old secured first place at her last competition earlier this month with a graceful solo that required a long skirt to be incorporated into the performance.

Mikayla said she was shocked to hear her number called after barely placing in the 13 years division last year.

“Even though I was proud of myself, and thought I did well, I still was second guessing myself, but then when my number got called out, I was shocked and in disbelief,” she said.

Training at Laurimar Calisthenics College Mikayla said a good routine was about combining emotion and stage presence.

After the solo competitions Mikayla has returned to training once a week, but even when she is not at training, learning new tricks is a focus.

In her family she is known to ‘live and breathe calisthenics’ – a description that started when Mikayla was introduced to the sport in grade one.  

“I don’t train with a coach every day of the week, but every day I’m trying to learn a new trick at home, practising something new,” she said.

“When I step out on stage, it feels like I’m on top of the world and I can do anything.”

Calisthenics is a dynamic combination of gymnastics, ballet and dance, and often includes objects such as clubs and rods.

Mikayla said harder tricks often took a lifetime of work and required mental strength.

“At the end of last year, when I was learning my dances, my coaches pulled me aside and taught me a bunch of little tricks, which was quite fun,” she said.

“Technically two of these tricks I’ve been trying to get since I started calisthenics but I wasn’t able to get it because I had a bit of a mental block.

“Most the time I try and convince myself that even though I might not think I can do it, I really can do it. If I fall out of it, just get up and try again.”

Currently in division two, Mikayla qualified to apply for open division at the Australian Calisthenics Nationals when she turns 17 – a dream she holds.

Mikayla said she was prepared to continue her passion by competing in state and local competitions, including the next round of routine competitions in July, where her family will cheer her on.

“I have to wait till the next solo season, which is at the start of next year, but I’m going to try and work as hard as possible to get as many new tricks and push myself to be the best version of myself,” she said.

“[My family] they all support me, they cheer me on, and at the end of my performances, I can always hear the loudest cheer coming from them.”

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