Shoalhaven athlete Jade Mustapic is proof that being dedicated to your sport doesn’t mean sacrificing of a normal childhood.
The 12-year-old Berry Public School student has discovered that international travel, lasting friendships and the enjoyment of sport can all be part of life as an aspiring elite athlete.
Jade has just returned from the little athletics Trans Tasman challenge where she captained the NSW team to victory over a New Zealand little athletic representative side, retaining the Trans Tasman Cup.
It was Jade’s second consecutive year as the NSW captain, an honour she said was completely unexpected.
“When they announced my name as team captain just prior to the event I was completely shocked,” she said.
“It was such an honour to be named as captain last year but to lead the team two years in a row was a huge surprise.”
Despite only recently returning after an injury which sidelined her for 10 weeks, Jade led the NSW team from the front claiming a bronze medal in the 400m, fourth in the 800m, a personal best, seventh place in the shot-put and 10th in the discus.
Jade capped off the long tiring day of competition by joining her NSW teammates to claim the gold medal in the gruelling 4x400m relay event.
Following the event Jade said that of all the experiences and successes she enjoyed as NSW team captain it was the friendships she had made that were most valuable to her.
“When I travelled to New Zealand as captain of the team last year I became really good friends with Jaymie Kolose from the New Zealand team,” Jade said.
“We stayed in touch and when we were both selected for the 2013 Trans Tasman series, it was great to have Jaymie travel to Australia and spend the day with us so we could return the favour from the year before.”
Jade’s proud mother Mel said the girls’ special bond through sport would lead to a lasting friendship.
“The girls are already organising the next time they will get together,” Mel said.
“Jade has already asked for her birthday present to be a trip to New Zealand and I think Jaymie is already planning her return visit to Australia.”
Jade is now setting her sights on this weekend’s country championship where she will compete for the Nowra Athletics Club, before she heads to Wagga Wagga where she will attempt to qualify for the state championships in the 400m, 800m, discus and javelin events.