One year ago, five schoolgirls from Cairns beat teams from Brazil and Russia to win the under-19 world championship in whitewater rafting.
On 27 November they leave for Indonesia to defend this title. Lucy Edington-Chapman, Carina Nixon, Gabriella Brinks, Layla Bitolkoski, Maddi Brittain and the team captain, Stephanie Seed, are training eight times a week in their bid to ensure that the world championship title remains in Cairns.
These girls are quite incredible. I had the pleasure of meeting them last year when they returned from Brazil. Their dedication was impressive-not just to getting to the competition but also to training and fundraising beforehand.
In Indonesia, they will face four events: a quick-time sprint challenge, a physical knockout head-to-head, a technical slalom course, and a downriver marathon event. There is no doubt that this is an extreme sport.
The girls have to be continually at the top of their game to avoid flipping and being caught under rocks and in dangerous currents. Safety always comes first, but good teamwork and communication is paramount when making split-second decisions.
Their success is evidence of this, as well as of the guidance from their coach, Wagner Torres. I wish the girls all the very best in bringing the world championship back to Cairns for the second time. They have done an outstanding job in their chosen sport.