Keilor Gift organisers have pulled off a coup, with world champion woodchopper Caroline Wassink to compete at the February 10 event at Keilor Recreation Reserve.
The 120-metre open Gift is undoubtedly the main event on the card, but the woodchopping has always proven popular.
Wassink’s appearance is huge for the Keilor event.
The 28-year-old will come fresh from her 2017 underhand world championship title win in the US last year.
Wassink, who grew up in Bairnsdale, has regularly featured at big show events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but it was her performance in the US that elevated her reputation on the international stage.
“It was absolutely mind blowing,” Wassink said.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be going over there and bringing home a world title the first time I went over.”
She said the thrill of it all wasn’t just about winning the world title – it was also about inspiring the young up-and-comers in the sport.
Wassink, a member of the Australian team, trains hard five times a week on top of her regular job.
Much of her travel to events is self-funded, but her passion for the sport and the benefits that come with the competition motivate her to compete whenever and wherever she can.
“We travel all over the place, around Australia and overseas as well,” Wassink said. “It’s a good experience, that’s for sure.
“Between the people you meet, the competition and seeing the sights as well, it’s the best of both worlds.
“It’s a fantastic experience that not everybody gets to have a go at.”
Wassink’s woodchopping career appeared in jeopardy at one stage.
She learned she had a heart condition called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome. It put her sports career on hold.
Thankfully, the procedure she underwent did not require open-heart surgery, meaning her recovery time was accelerated.
Wassink was back woodchopping just seven days later, showing just how passionate she is about the sport.
“I actually wasn’t expecting to be coming back so soon,” she said.
“The surgeon said to me that because I didn’t have open-heart surgery, it’s a lot easier on the heart to recuperate, so it was back into it seven days later.
“It was bloody fantastic to get back into it.
“I went back a month later for a check up and everything was fine.
“I’ve had no problems since and I’ve been firing on all cylinders.”
Wassink, who moved to Brisbane last week to live, is looking forward to returning to her home state to perform in front of the Keilor Gift spectators.
She is always willing to answer any questions and spread the word about a sport she would like to see in the Olympics one day.
But just don’t get in her way when she is in the heat of battle.
“I can guarantee it will be a pretty fiery competition there,” she said.
“Everyone gets on fantastic with each other, but when it comes to competition time, that’s where everyone sets their mind to the task.
“I think there will be some pretty good competition down there.”