YAS awards for rising stars

Two highly-motivated Wodonga teenagers are kicking goals in their chosen fields and have received a leg up from Wodonga Council with a Young Achievers Scheme award.

Ruby Kelly and Muhammad Umar Ansari (who goes by the name Mahd) both received financial support at the August council meeting to help them pursue their dreams.

Mahd is completing Year 10 at Albury High School in a specialised and accelerated program that will see him graduate at the age of 16.

Mahd’s exceptional intellect and leadership abilities secured him a spot in Brown University’s Pre College Leadership Program, one of the most sought after programs in the world.

The 14-year-old has been participating in the program in an online capacity and is currently completing his final assessment to develop an action plan to promote digital literacy and inspire young people into careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields in the Wodonga community.

In 2021, Mahd received his first YAS award after his high scores on an aptitude test earnt him a place at the Centre for Talented Youth, which is an online and campus-based course run by the Johns Hopkins University in the US.

Mahd’s mum, Ayesha, said her son hopes to become a software engineer and is also interested in law after completing his recent leadership course.

Mahd is also a talented basketballer, who was selected to play for the Wodonga Wolves Representative Squad for three consecutive seasons and is also the youngest qualified basketball coach at the Wodonga Basketball Association. He has been coaching the Under 10’s domestic team for the third season now.

Last year he was selected for the Country Victoria Regional Basketball Academy.

“He loves basketball and has been pivoting into tennis since last season due to jumper’s knee,” Ayesha said.

“He was the runners-up in the Under 14s singles at the Junior Development Tournament.”

Mahd also enjoys public speaking and was the first to represent Wodonga at district level at the Lions Club Public Speaking Competition.

The second YAS recipient for August, Ruby Kelly, is a talented gymnast who is dedicated to her sport, training more than 20 hours each week.

The 13-year-old is in the international stream for gymnastics and travels to Melbourne regularly for training in the Victorian development squad.

In September, Ruby will become the first gymnast from Flyaway Gymnastics to compete at the 2023 National Clubs Carnival on the Gold Coast.

Earlier this year, Ruby competed as a member of the Victorian Future International state team at the Australian Gymnastics Championships and helped the team secure gold all around.

She was also individually named the floor champion and placed second on the bars.

Her mum, Rachel, said her daughter works hard and is on track to try out for both the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games in the next few years.

Last month, Ruby attended a week-long training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and will return for another week of training in December.

The head coach at Flyaway Gymnastics, Rachael Fraser, talks about Ruby’s dedication to her sport and acknowledged how she inspires future gymnasts at the club.

“Ruby’s commitment and passion for her gymnasts shines through in her 20 hours of training each week and her cheerful demeanour makes her a favourite at the club within her team mates,” she said.

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