Junior Mabia has all the makings of a champion athlete.
At age 15, he has speed, strength, agility and power beyond his years.
And it hasn’t taken long for this pedigree to transform into personal best times, gold medals and records galore.
Mabia’s sport of choice is athletics, and he does his best work in sprint events.
The Sunshine resident won the 100 and 200 metre titles at the Australian Little Athletics championships last year and was one of the boys’ four-by-100 metres relay team, which won bronze.
He also won gold three times at the state relay championships, and was selected for the Australian junior titles earlier this year.
However, for Liberian-born Mabia, results on the track come second to the opportunities competing in sport have provided for him.
On his arrival in Australia aged 10, he spoke limited English. Now, he’s fluent in the language and a role model for younger members of his community.
“The great thing about running is that it makes people start talking about you,” Mabia said.
“It makes a name for you everywhere. It makes people proud of me, and people love to watch me run.
“If a person beats me, I go to them and I say ‘good job’. If he beats me, it makes me want to improve, to put my game up and work
Having earned a scholarship to specialised sports school Maribyrnong College, Mabia trained alongside fellow speedster and classmate Cody Rodwell.
The boys struck up a friendship, with Mabia joining Rodwell’s Little Athletics club at Sunbury.
With limited access to transport, it was difficult for Mabia to get to training.
But so impressive is his work ethic, attitude and natural ability that other people quickly stepped up and helped him.
Cody’s parents, Jeanetta and Steve, have made the trip from Clarkefield to Sunshine to pick up Mabia and drop him off at Little Athletics every week since he joined.
“That young man has dedicated himself and proved himself,” Jeanetta says.
“Little kids from athletics follow him everywhere. He always stops, he always shakes their hands, and he makes a point of going up to these younger athletes and telling them they can do this, too. Little kids idolise him.”
The excitement building around Mabia is vibrating far and wide, with the outstanding young talent invited to a national training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport later this year.
For his outstanding sporting achievements, Mabia is this month’s nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
Mabia will receive $1000, donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club, and other prizes to help him reach his future sporting goals.
The Don Deeble Rising Star award recognises young athletes in the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at a state and national level.
The award is run by the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club, in conjunction with Star Weekly
To nominate someone for the Don Deeble Rising Star Award, email firstname.lastname@example.org