Keira Eckley is your typical 15-year-old schoolgirl.
She has a broad smile, is fully engaged with her family, school and friends and enjoys all of the challenges life provides.
Lurking beneath that smile, however, is a highly dedicated athlete who even at her tender age has represented Australia in her sporting love of taekwondo.
Eckley started taekwondo when she was five, following in the footsteps of her sister Tayla.
She graduated to her black belt in 2017, when she was just 12 and specialises in Poomsae.
“It is the technical side of taekwondo where you are required to perform patterns in front of judges,” she said.
“Your performances are judged on both technical accuracy and presentation.”
Eckley is one of many young athletes who got their start at City West Taekwondo in Werribee, who have become her taekwondo family.
“I have formed many lifelong friendships there because we all work hard together and enjoy each other’s company,” she said.
“I love sport because it gives me a release from school work and other pressures.”
To date Eckley has won 64 medals, 48 gold, nine silver and seven bronze medals across local, state, national and international events.
She has won several Australian National Championships titles, won gold at Oceania Championships in Fiji in 2016 and bronze at the World Championship selections in 2018.
Unfortunately COVID-19 affected competitions in Australia and overseas, but it didn’t deter Eckley who, with the help of her parents, transformed her garage into a makeshift studio for training.
“The lockdown probably helped me focus,” she reflected.
“Spending my time at home being schooled and then having to train, motivated me.
“When I thought about my goals and what I want to achieve from my taekwondo, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get ahead of other competitors.
“Training in the garage four days a week, stretching, skipping, abdominal strengthening and technique work, doing my sessions on a Zoom link to my coaches really disciplined me.”
In what is the new COVID-19 world, Eckley has already competed in two online world competitions in 2021.
In March, she competed in the Belgium Open, and earlier this month was chosen as Australia’s female junior representative in the online World Poomsae Challenge.
Eckley had to film her routine and send her vision away to the judges who viewed the routines and returned their verdict.
She finished in the top 20 athletes in the world – an outstanding achievement for someone so young.
“I love the challenge of competition as I get older,” she said.
“I am able to learn from people more experienced than me, which will make me better. I enjoy meeting people from all cultures and countries.
“My aim is to be selected in the Australian National Team in 2022 to compete in the World Championships.”
Eckley is the April winner of the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club Don Deeble Award.
She will be presented with her Don Deeble award at the April dinner of the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club at Medway Golf Club.
The award is sponsored by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club, Strathmore Community Bank and the Deer Park Club.
If you would like to attend a dinner, or nominate someone from your sporting club please email firstname.lastname@example.org or sms 0408 556 631.