Rising star spreads dream of gold

YOLANE Kukla is only 13, but she can swim 50 metres in 25.35 seconds.

The age champion swimmer from Brisbane was in Rockhampton this week to push aspiring athletes to follow in her footsteps.

Kukla was at Rockhampton Grammar School on Tuesday, in a coaching capacity as part of the Junior Excellence program being run throughout the state.

Kukla has broken four Australian records in her age group, and is ranked seven in Australia for the open 100 metres freestyle sprint.

But despite her ambition to one day bring home an Olympic gold medal, she still manages to inspire other children to take their passion to another level.

Kukla enjoys watching and coaching the children because they love it as much as she does.

“I love swimming it is my passion,” she said.

“When I was 12 I decided this is what I wanted to do, so this is only my second year competitively.”

David Milburn, president of the Central Queensland Swimming Association, said the program encouraged children who were on the verge of pushing through to a professional level and Yolane was their inspiration.

“The children are being exposed to somebody who is achieving at a higher level, allowing them an opportunity for them to see they are not much different, as Yolane is only 13,” he said.

“She is here to demonstrate how it is done, and hopefully the kids will pick up her technique.”

The Junior Excellence program runs from the ages of nine to 13, with about 300-400 children in Central Queensland, he said.

“Most of the kids that are here is because of the work they have done in their own programs,” he said.

“It is their mental attitude and focus that determines if they are going to excel.”

Children had travelled from as far as Maryborough to be involved in the program, he said.

“This is the activity in Rockhampton, and in February it is in Gladstone. We have kids who have come up from Gladstone to be here today and when we go to Gladstone children from Rockhampton will join us then,” Mr Milburn said.

Kukla's coach from the St Peter's Club, Michael Palfery, said he coached children right from a young age.

“We are giving them support and they get to see athletes that are already achieving.”

“This is the first day of the Junior Excellence program and it starts here in Rockhampton and goes all the way up to Cairns.”

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