Superstar Smith Earns Young Athlete Gong

Umina’s Jemma Smith capped a stunning summer with the Young Athlete of the Year Award at the NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence in Sydney on Saturday.

Since July 2015 the talented 17-year-old has been selected in the Central Coast Interbranch team, the NSW Interstate team, the NSW Pool Rescue team, toured New Zealand with the U18 Development Pool Rescue squad, the Australian Youth team for the International Surf Rescue team and the NSW and Australian U19 Royal Lifesaving teams.

With a resume like that it’s hard to pick a highlight, but for Jemma it was the opportunity to race the best in Australia and compete with her close friends in Umina that stood out.

“My Australian Championships campaign was an amazing highlight for me as I had so many great teammates and it was the first time I’ve been able to compete in team events at Aussies so it was really special to finish with some good results in those events,” she said.

“It’s so amazing, we’ve got such a good group of girls at Umina SLSC and so it’s really good we can train together and push each other.”

She tested herself against older competitors regularly racing in the U19s and Open categories, more than holding her own against the experience racers, and stamping herself as one to watch in the proces.

At the 2016 State Championships held at her home beach she finished with 10 medals including 6 gold, while at The Aussies she came away with 9 medals (6 gold) and the title of Female Athlete of the Championships.

When she’s not training or competing she’s putting the hard yards in as a fulltime school student entering the challenging senior years, and is also a familiar face on patrol during the summer.

Her next challenge will be at the World Life Saving Championships when she jets off to the Netherlands next month as captain of the Australian Youth Team.

“My training is on track for Worlds. There’s just less than three weeks till we leave so it’s getting really close and I’m buckling down and training’s going really well but it’s a bit harder in the winter months,” Smith said.

“A couple of days ago I found out I was in the Kellogs Nutri-Grain Iron Series, so my goal throughout the year is to re-qualify for that and also get some good results at the other big carnivals throughout the season.”

The 2016 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence are proudly presented by Stramit Building Products. Over 350 of Surf Life Saving’s most outstanding lifesavers, athletes, educators, coaches, and administrators from around NSW gathered at Sydney’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel for a night of celebration.

Photograph – It’s been a big summer for rising star Jemma Smith who is pictured here at the 2016 NSW Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence.