Up-and-coming Gold Coast triathlete Sophie Huntley Antippa is jetting off to Mexico this week (Friday, 9 September) to compete in her first international race with the Australian team at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Triathlon World Championships.
The 19-year-old Bond University medical student only began participating in triathlon a year ago and will be joined by Dan Atkins, who runs the Gold Coast National Performance Centre.
Sophie almost didn't see her dream of competing in Mexico come to fruition after suffering a broken scapula while training at the end of last year, sidelining her for the summer triathlon season, meaning she missed all of the core qualifying races.
She said her coach Dane Robinson, who has been mentoring her for the past six months, encouraged her to participate in the Luke Harrop race on the Gold Coast in April (2016), where she went on to qualify for the Australian team.
"I'm so excited to represent Australia," Sophie said.
"I've never been to Mexico before so it will be an amazing experience to travel there, compete and have the support of a coach as successful as Dan along for support. Both Dan and Dane have been such a big part of my life since I started training as an athlete.
"My shoulder was not completely healed when I decided to enter the Luke Harrop race and I hadn't done a lot of training leading up to the event, so I really didn't know how I would go.
"The race was the same week as an important medical exam I had at Bond and, unluckily, I also had the flu.
"I decided to go along anyway and just try my best, so I ended up doing a lot better than I thought and earning a place in my first Australian side. I couldn't be happier."
Sophie credits her coaches for helping her achieve her goal of competing on the world stage in Mexico.
"I've come a long way with my recovery since the Luke Harrop race and I am training harder than ever in the lead up to Mexico," she said.
"I hope to improve my performance whilst balancing my studies to finish my medical degree."
Sophie is in her second year of a Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine at Bond University and was the first student in the Medical program to be part of the Bond Elite Sports Program (BESP).
The program provides support to rising athletes to balance their study and sporting ambitions. As a member of the BESP, Sophie also received a grant towards her trip to Mexico.
"The team at Bond has been very understanding and flexible, assisting me to juggle the workload of being in one of the most challenging years of my degree content-wise, while training for my biggest competition to date," she said
"I have been able to handle my classes, timetables and exams, while committing to a full-on training schedule, which has been a lot easier with the help of Bond. I am very appreciative and will be proudly wearing the Bond logo on my race suit on the day."
Sophie will be in Cozumel, Mexico, from 10 to 24 September, with race day on 15 September.