Following a combined haul of 14 medals in the pool at the Trinbago 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games, Mikayla Bird and Inez Miller have been named the joint December Emerging Athletes of the Month.
Both members of the successful Australian Team that participated at the recent Youth Games, Bird and Miller dominated in the pool, winning seven medals each across a range of events.
For both, it is an honour to have received the nomination, with Miller noting that ‘being nominated alongside my teammate is pretty special’.
“It’s a massive honour being recognised amongst all the incredible athletes who have participated in the Commonwealth Games,” she also said.
Bird echoed the sentiments, while also acknowledging the ‘recognition of (my) hard work and dedication over many years to get to where (I) am today’.
Miller, whose medal haul included three gold medals across various freestyle events, found the event to be ‘such an incredible experience’, especially with the time that retrospect provides.
“I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to perform and am so thankful that Commonwealth Games Australia was able to facilitate the event.
I think from a swimming perspective I felt like I was being pulled up to a higher standard by my teammates around me and almost forced to do my best.
I am obviously extremely proud of my performance at the Commonwealth Youth Games, but sometimes I find those moments to be fleeting so I really cherish the longer impacts of going to youth comm games.
I am especially proud of the opportunities and friendships I have made.”
As Bird noted when reflecting on her time, ‘swimming at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad was an experience that will stay with me for a very long time’.
“Not only was it incredibly fun and exciting, but it also taught me a lot about myself.
Competing against other young people from around the world has helped to solidify my swimming goals and I feel like it has made me a more resilient person.”
Bird, who joined Miller on the podium alongside Jye Bennion and Harkey Larke to win gold in the Mixed 4x200m Freestyle Relay, also showcased her dominance in butterfly, claiming gold in both the Women’s 100m and 200m Butterfly.
“I am so proud of what I achieved at the Commonwealth Youth Games. Winning three gold and four bronze medals at an event like that is more than I ever expected, and it is so rewarding to see all of my hard work pay off.”
As 2023 draws to a close, Bird has her eyes firmly set on the next phase of her sporting career, with ‘so many amazing opportunities coming up’ that she has an eye on.
“At the upcoming Olympic Trials, I am aiming to make the finals in all of my events, while making the Junior Pan Pacific Team is also a big goal of mine; ultimately, I am focused on earning a spot on a senior Australian swimming team.”
For Miller, the focus is getting to a point in her life where she knows she’s ‘giving something 110% effort, whether it’s finishing off Year 12, swimming as fast as I can, passion projects or friendships’.
Both are quick to mention their families in being instrumental in supporting all their endeavours, including ones out of sport, with Miller poignantly adding that they still give her ‘enough space to grow on (her) own’.
Bird’s final comments turn to her wider support team, thanking them for all that they do in supporting her goals and celebrating her achievements.
“My coaches and teammates at Bond are always assisting and encouraging me to be the best athlete I can be, and I am so thankful to be part of such an amazing team.”
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Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) has a focus on supporting emerging talent and celebrating the next generation of Australian sport stars.
Over the course of 2023, an athlete will be recognised each month as the Commonwealth Games Australia emerging athlete of the month and will a contribution towards their training expenses.
Three finalists from the monthly winners will be invited to the 2024 Commonwealth Games Australia Presidents Function where one will be named the Commonwealth Games Australia Emerging Athlete of the Year.
The annual winner, selected by the Awards Sub Committee will receive a $5000 CGA scholarship toward their sporting career.