If you catch a kiteboarder out on Lake Burrumbeet, there is a chance it is Pia Gordon training for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
The Ballarat Clarendon College student qualified for the Games, which will be held in Argentina in October, despite only taking up the sport seriously again during the summer holidays.
Gordon was born in New Zealand, but has spent most of her life in Thailand after moving there at the age of six. The 17-year-old has been based in Ballarat since the end of 2014.
With her older brother moving to Melbourne for university, Gordon said her parents decided to live in Ballarat to keep the family together, but also allowing her brother some space.
“When we were living in Thailand kiteboarding was our main family sport,” Gordon said. “But when we moved here we stopped because there is only the one place I can do it in Ballarat.”
But her contacts in Thailand convinced her to give the sport another chance.
“As soon as the opportunity arose to try and qualify for the Youth Games they told me to come back, train and compete,” Gordon said.
“So in March I did go back, I did eight days of full on training in Thailand, I did the qualifiers and then flew back home for school – I missed two weeks of year 12.”
Gordon is now hoping to represent her country of birth, which will compete with a team of 75 athletes, but is waiting on confirmation from the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
“It will be pretty unreal, it’s pretty exciting, especially watching the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
“They’ve added (kiteboarding) into the Olympics for Tokyo for the first time.
“Everyone dreams of the Olympics and I gave up on it when I hit teenage years because I didn’t think I would make it. But then this came along and it’s too good to be true, so I had to go for it.”
Gordon will swap Lake Burrumbeet for Thailand in July to continue her preparation, before heading to Sri Lanka and then Italy for the Open World Championships, before a final stop in Buenos Aires for the Games.
And the chance to represent New Zealand will mean the world to Gordon.