Alton Downs' cowgirl celebrates first national title
RODEO: Alton Downs cowgirl Jorja Iker has notched up two impressive firsts in the past two weeks.
A fortnight ago she won her maiden all around title at the Central Rodeo Cowboys Association finals in Rockhampton.
Last weekend, she won her first Australian title, taking out the breakaway roping at the Australian Professional Rodeo Association national finals in Warwick.
Jorja dominated the competition, winning three of the four rounds, the title and the average.
"It's still a bit surreal at the moment but I'm very, very happy,” Jorja said of her most recent success.
"I had been roping good all year and just wanted to go well down there.
"Winning at the national finals is what everyone dreams of doing.
"I can now tick that one off the bucket list.”
Jorja's greatest rival in Warwick proved to be 15-year-old Emerald schoolgirl Ellysa Kenny, who went on to become the youngest ever competitor to win the all around cowgirl title.
The two Central Queensland riders went head to head on the four days of competition.
Being first heading into the final round meant Jorja rode last, so she had a good idea the title would be hers with a solid final run.
"Ellysa broke out before me but I knew I still had to catch my calf and be clean,” she said.
"My heart was racing a little bit but I just took a few deep breaths and told myself it was just another run and to go out and do it.”
The news was not so good for Jorja's husband Shane, who was unable to defend his all around cowboy title but did finish runner-up in the rope and tie.
The all around was won by Campbell Hodson, who is originally from Townsville but now calls Emerald home.
Jorja and Shane are on the road again this weekend, bound for the invitational National Rodeo Council of Australia finals in Dalby.
They will then get to enjoy a little down time before competition ramps up again with the start of the Christmas Run.
Jorja said it was great that she and Shane had a shared passion for rodeo.
"Shane is always helping me out in the arena and it's great having his support and being able to call on his knowledge,” she said.
"We have our own arena at home and we both train three hours a day Monday to Thursday.”
Jorja said her next goal was to win the national breakaway roping again next year, with a view to one day winning the all around title.