Melanie Stedman, with horse Prinny, made the Australian team.
Melanie Stedman, with horse Prinny, made the Australian team. Renee Pilcher

Barrel of sport fun for racer

BARREL racer Melanie Stedman is only young, but the international competitor has made the short-list of the Gympie Sportsman Association's Sports Star of the Year Award.

The 13-year-old was in the US representing Australia at the National Barrel Horse Association Youth World Championships.

Stedman, a keen tennis player, saxophonist and flautist, achieved a presence on the international barrel racing scene after only a year in the sport.

She raced her way to the top of Australia's National Barrel Racing Association's junior 3D and 4D rankings during 2011.

That meant Stedman qualified to compete at the world titles and she spent the first half of the year chalking up points to qualify for Australia's team for next year's World Championships.

Stedman said competing at the world level was something she had dreamed of and news of her place in the Australian team, alongside fellow Gympie riders Chelsea Bartlett and Tamika Anderson, came as a huge shock. She said she'd been counting down the days to her American trip.

The modest Gympie State High School student said she was addicted to the sport because of its intensity and challenge. Every time she raced, she learnt something new which spurred her on to race again.

Stedman was the tenth of up to 12 finalists vying to be Sports Star of the Year and joined teammate and fellow nominee Anderson along with motorbike star Joel Kelso, enduro champ Jemma Wilson, tenpin bowler Stephen O'May, hockey player Patrick Barnes, futsal player Ella Flack, javelin thrower Liam O'Brien, enduro rider Peter-Daniel Allan and cricketer Stephanie Mills.

The nominees were in the running to take home part of $3000 worth of prizes.

The Sports Star of the Year featured three major prizes. The overall winner took home $1000 and a trophy, the Junior Sports Star of the Year received $500 and a trophy and the all-rounder received $300, a trophy and 12 months' gym membership at Cooloola Fitness Centre.

The Gympie Times readers would count for 50% of the votes for Gympie's Sports Star of the Year and the other half of the final vote would be in the hands of the association's judges.

A full list and run-down of each of the nominees would appear in the Gympie Times when it was time to vote.

Gympie Times


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