Interview with Milly Mazzei
Milly Mazzei is a bit of a hero in our eyes! She isn’t (yet) a student at UNE (we hope she will be some day) – in fact she is still at school, nonetheless, Milly is a special person within our community and is reaching amazing goals with her success in athletics. We are so proud of her.
Milly is a highly devoted Para-athlete, who at the age of only sixteen was named in the Australian Athletics team and competed in the Oceania Championships in Townsville in June this year. The Oceania Championships are an athletic event that is held annually and include the countries and Islands within the Pacific region.
This was an exciting occasion for Milly who wore the gold and green colours and brought home silvers from her two events in the Open Women’s Para 200m and the Open Women’s Para 400m. Go, Milly!
2019 is set to be a busy year for Milly who is extremely excited that she has also made the Australian team competing in the Para 100m, 400m and relay squad in October at the INAS Global Games. These games are held every four years and are the world’s biggest sports event for athletes with an intellectual impairment and are considered an important event in preparation to the Paralympic Games.
Aside from her busy training schedule and school, Milly is also a Support Staff member at SportUNE, where she works once a week. Her duties include assisting with customer service and fitness centre duties including stocking food and drinks, cleaning and moving gym equipment, signing members into the gym and preparing halls for sports bookings.
Milly and her mother Ariane have been so kind as to answer a few questions regarding her love for the track and her dreams of one day being a Paralympian for Australia.
Congratulations on your amazing feats at the Oceania Championships! What an amazing accomplishment to be named in the Australian Athletics team for this competition. How did you feel when you found out you qualified for the team?
I was very, very excited. All I have ever wanted to do is compete for Australia and wear the ‘green & gold’
You’re a pro, at 16! That’s pretty impressive, how old were you when you first started competing?
I first competed on the track when I was 10 years old and was in year 5 at school. It was love at first sight!
What is the number one thing you love the most about track running?
Easy, the medals! 🏅
Holding those two silver medals would have been a proud moment for you! It definitely highlights your dedication to the sport, and can be imagined that the preparation for Oceania must have been intense! How often were you training?
It’s a lot of work preparing for an event, but I love it. I trained 4 days a week on the track and 2 days a week off the track doing gym and core body workouts.
The INAS Global Games are the next international event for you, have you begun training for that?
Definitely! My training phase has been reset so I can peak again at the Global Games.
The pressure at an international event must be enormous! How do you cope with the nerves?
Hmm… the pressure isn’t too bad but that’s because I like to stay in the right headspace, this is done usually through my regular warm-up routine with my coach Jay.
Do you have a favourite track event to compete in?
Yep, the 400m is my all-time favourite and probably my best event. 😀 I spend a lot of time training & competing at this distance, as it is the only event I can represent Australia for at the Paralympics due to my T20 Classification.
You must feel a wave of relief once an intense competition it over! Do you have a special way of celebrating once a race is finished?
At the end of an entire Championships, I like to eat a Krispy Kreme Donut (or two!) 🍩
Being an elite athlete from a regional town can sometimes have you travelling to different competitions, do you have to travel much for your events?
Yeah, I spend a lot of time travelling to Sydney Olympic Park in Sydney and the Queensland State Athletics track in Brisbane. I have also travelled to Penguin in Tasmania and last year I went to Vanuatu – which was awesome!
Do you have a standout favourite place of these?
Vanuatu – the people were just so relaxed, the scenery beautiful and the track was fast! Here I won two Silver medals, in the Open Para 400m and the Open Para 100m behind two Paralympians.
That is so exciting, well done!! Besides running, do you enjoy participating in any other sports or athletics?
Actually, all my time at the moment is spent running, however, I do love to horse ride although I can’t afford the injury time if I fall off!
You don’t really seem to have too much downtime! But when you do, what sort of things do you like to do?
Oh, I really love to cook! I spend heaps of time in the kitchen cooking with Mum and my sister, Sammy. Whenever I get some town time I like to watch You Tubers, the Dobre Brothers on my iPad.
So, you’re still at school – which subjects are your fave?
I really enjoy getting creative in food Tech and wood Tech! I also help deliver the food once a week for “Meals on Wheels” and that’s really cool!
We recently spoke to SportUNE General Manager Tom Bower about your role as support staff at the gym, what is your favourite part about the work you do there?
My favourite part is being around happy and healthy people who are enthusiastic about sport! I also really enjoy making coffees for the customers.
Did you know Usain Bolt’s celebrity inspiration is comedian Kevin Hart? Do you have a celebrity or sporting hero who inspires you?
Sure do, Kurt Fernley – he is a hero of mine, a celebrity in Para sports star. I would love to meet Kurt in person one day… maybe when I become a Paralympian he’ll come to get my autograph. 😆
My friends and training partners from The Viper Squad also keep me on my toes and inspired!
With someone as amazing as Kurt Fernley as your inspiration, do you have any big dreams for your sporting career?
I would really love to represent my country as a Paralympian! 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺
We’re sure that dream will someday become a reality for you! But in the present moment, what is your current goal?
My biggest goal at the moment is to perform well at the Global Games in October and hopefully obtain the 400m Paralympic qualifying time!
And finally, a fun question… what is your number one song that motivates you?
Haha. It has to be Eye of the Tiger by Survivor 🐯
Thank you for participating in the interview, I wish you the best of luck in all of your future events!
Now a few questions for Arnie…
After speaking with Milly, I was certain that her determination and passion will have her see some amazing results in the coming events! Milly mentioned how happy she is about her achievements at Oceania and it can only be imagined how proud her dedicated parents must be.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about Milly. It is a given you are extremely proud of your daughter, but what is the number one thing that you celebrate about your talented daughter?
Her ability… her ability to be determined, her ability to focus on her goals, her ability to become independent and her ability to enjoy her chosen sport and her ability to run fast!
Milly obtained two outstanding silver medals in her two races, how did she feel after the event?
She was very pleased to be coming home with two medals and ecstatic about her experience running for the first time in the Aussie ‘green & gold’ colours – as was I!
You travelled to Vanuatu for one of Milly’s competitions. Can you tell me a little bit about your experiences in travelling for events? Do you have a favourite moment with Milly from your travels together?
Milly and I spend many, many weeks travelling away together. Last year (for fun) I added up how many kilometers we drove, just for sporting events… the total, just under 25,000kms & this didn’t include the trip to Vanuatu!
There are so many fantastic moments. Our most favourite trips are when Milly has some of her Viper teammates & their families around us. There are always ups & downs when you are travelling with an athlete, some days she competes better than other days. Our trips can sometimes be an emotional rollercoaster – but that is being a sportsperson. Things don’t always go your way.
Vanuatu was great as both Milly’s Dad & I went over to see her compete. Milly stayed with the team in the “Athletes Village” while Will & I spent some quality time together between races.
You mention how there are ups and downs for an athlete, but focusing on the ‘ups’ – out of all the events Milly has competed in, has there been a particular moment that is the most memorable for you?
Yes, this year in April at Australian Athletics Championships where Milly had a fantastic meet. She beat her PB in the Para 400m by 1.5 secs. I cheered so loudly and when Milly came up to the stand after the race I cheered and gave her a kiss to say well done & she turned to me and said: “calm down Mum”!
I can imagine that would have been an exciting day for you all! It is amazing how Milly has been able to show her full potential through para-athletics. What does the opportunity of para athletic events mean to you?
The opportunity of competing in para-athletics has introduced our family to a whole new family. A family who has varying abilities, a family who strive to overcome adversity and a family who succeed. A family outside our own family where Milly feels she belongs.
A huge thanks to Milly and her mother Arnie for taking the time to answer our questions!
Milly is an amazing young girl, with some fantastic accomplishments behind her, and no doubt many more she will obtain. We cannot wait to see what amazing result she will bring home after INAS Global Games!