It has been such a hectic and rewarding season for Deer Park taekwondo sensation Reba Stewart that she has not had a moment to truly reflect on her great achievements in 2019.
With sport and study for year 12 exams, there has been little down time for the hard working Stewart.
When reading a list of some of her achievements on the taekwondo mat, including gold medals at the Australian Open, Oceania Championships and Pacific Games, Stewart finally realises how far she has come in the sport.
“It is a bit surreal,” Stewart said.
“It’s been such a hectic year, I haven’t had a lot of time to stop and reflect.
“I haven’t been in this sport for a very long time, but the amount that I’ve done in the short amount of time, I feel like I’m really doing well at the moment.”
Stewart’s moment of arrival on the world stage came at this year’s world championships in Manchester.
The 18-year-old was staring down the world’s best taekwondo players and more than held her own.
A top 16 finish was an incredible result for a teenager facing competitors upwards of 10 years older with more experience.
“I think that was definitely my highlight of the year,” Stewart said.
“It was in Manchester and it was a really big comp with so many different countries.
“The atmosphere there was a lot different from all of the other competitions.
“It was the world championships – it’s one of the highest comps you can be at.”
Stewart took so much learning out of the worlds.
She stood in awe of the athletes that she was competing against.
“The way they fight, you just know how much training, effort and time they put into becoming the best athletes in the world,” Stewart said.
“I came up against a ranked No. 2 in the world.”
Stewart was primed to perform her best at the competition.
A training camp in Jordan leading up had her in a strong mental and physical state.
“I came up against a 26 year old woman,” she said.
“I’m in the heavyweight category, plus-73 kilos, so there’s some big girls.
“I really liked how I performed.
“It was the best preparation I’ve done for a competition beforehand.”
Now that she has mixed it with the best taekwondo players in the world, the sky is the limit for Stewart.
Her dream of one day representing Australia at an Olympics is a step closer.
“Fighting them, you’re on the stage with them, so you feel like you belong there,” Stewart said.
“You’re on the same mat as them, so I know that I can become the best that I can be as well.
“I can become top 10 in the world, top five in the world, or I could be No. 1 one day.”
Stewart trains under coach Jerry Moraitis at Hall’s Taekwondo in Tullamarine.
She has just completed her year 12 studies at Maribyrnong College.
She is the November nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
The award, hosted by the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and Star Weekly, recognises young athletes from the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at state and or national levels.
Stewart will receive $1000 and other prizes, donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club to assist her in achieving her sports goals.