Destined to SOAR: An interview with IIijana Ostojic aspiring Go-Kart Driver

Destined to SOAR: An interview with IIijana Ostojic aspiring Go-Kart Driver

Celeste Kocabay

Destined to SOAR.

This interview series is aimed at celebrating, recognising and promoting the incredible talent and ferocious courage of our young women of tomorrow. 

Let's recognise the magnificent effort of girls' in sport across all codes! 

Today our interview is with IIijana Ostojic, Soar Active had the privilege to catch up with IIijana and chat about her love for Go-Karting.

1.  IIijana, tell us about your early life?

IIijana: I am 10 years old and live in Adelaide, South Australia with my mum and dad and my younger Brother. I have always been on the go doing something. On weekends I would go for long bike rides with my dad or drives through the hills in his ute.

When I started school, I joined the school soccer team and also started hip hop dancing at Ground Force Studios which is lots of fun and I still do it today. I play soccer part time now because our games are on Saturdays and sometimes, I can’t go because I am at the track.

2. So how did you discover Karting?

IIijana: I was turning 5 and my dad asked me as a joke if I wanted a doll or a go kart for my birthday, and I said a go kart. I didn’t know what it was exactly but knew it was something that made lots of noise and I could go fast.

Dad got me a midget kart and took me out to practice at Pt Gawler. At first, I was a bit scared but then once I jumped in it and got on the track, I loved it and it was the best thing of my life.

We joined a karting club, and I could start straight away. Because of my age I could only race on a dirt track. It was wet and muddy, and I would always be covered in mud. I raced in the Midgets category with lots of other kids and was able to race around SA. When I turned 8, I moved from dirt to bitumen and started as a Cadet 9. I absolutely love bitumen racing and I get to race any time of the year when it's hot or raining.

3. What was your next step?

IIijana: In 2023 I am going to travel more around Australia with the focus of competing in different places and not always at the same track.

I want to learn to race on different track conditions and in the rain and with different competitors and continue to learn new things.  I am competing in the Cadet 12 category which has some great drivers from SA and other States, and I am looking forward to racing with them. My other goals for next year is to keep raising awareness of girls on track and girls competing in a boys sport. 

There is a girls only event in January 2023 in NSW where girls from all around Australia can come to compete for the “pink plate” and I want to represent SA and bring home the plate for the Cadet 12s.

4. How do you balance your competitive training and managing school?

IIijana: I attend school full time. I just finished Year 4 and will move into Year 5 in 2023. All my teachers have been very supportive of me with go karting and encourage and support me where they can. Sometimes I need to miss some school when travelling and when I do my Teachers always give me work to do whilst I am away. The rules are that if I don’t do well at school, I’m not allowed to race. School has also been good because this year I have been learning more about nutrition, multiplication and fractions and I can use these in my sport. On weekends when I’m not racing, I am usually at the track practising so I make sure I finish my homework during the week so my weekends are free for training.

 5. What do you do in your downtime?

IIijana: Friday night movie night is one of my favourite things to do (sometimes we have to do it on Saturday night) because I get to spend time with my family. My mum or dad will pick a movie and we try to pick a new one each time or something they watched when they were kids, and we eat popcorn and relax on the couch in our pyjamas. I enjoy being able to spend time with my friends and my cousins as well as cooking with my grandparents, but the one thing I love to do the most is relax in my room and listen to some music.

6. What makes you feel happy, brave, and strong? 

IIijana: My family, friends and my dancing make me happy. But getting in my go kart and doing laps is the best. It gives me the feeling of being brave and strong and makes me feel like I can do anything. It makes me feel free. It’s hard to explain but karting has made me believe in myself and what I can do and has taught me that a scary situation can have a happy ending.

Being a girl at a track with boys can be hard. When I started racing, I felt like I had to prove to everyone that I could do what the boys do. It’s not like that now, but I still want to push as hard as I can to make sure I show them I’m a good competitor and it makes me feel strong and powerful when I can stand next to them on the podium.

 7. Tell us about a special moment in the last year? 

IIijana: I have so many, it’s hard to pick. One of the most special moments was at the beginning of the year at Round 1 of the Australian Kart Championships in Melbourne. It was my first real big race with people from around Australia and my first-time racing interstate. There were a lot of kids in my class (20) and only a few girls but all day I was giving it my best and held my position in the top 10 and the last race I came 5th. It was the best thing ever. This also put me at the top of the Ladies Trophy score board as I had the highest number of points.

Another special moment was being awarded the star performer for my end of year dance concert. I didn’t know I was going to get the award and my teacher called my name out on stage in front of everyone. The award was for most improved, consistent and dedicated. It was really special.

8. What is your ultimate goal?

IIijana: My ultimate goal is to achieve the following in go karting for 2023:

  • Make the top 3 for SA
  • Come first place in the Pink Plate
  • Build my knowledge and skill for interstate racing and to improve at each event, never give up and keep going!

9. What's your favourite attribute about yourself?

IIijana: I am a kind person and will be friends with everyone. I have a good group of friends in and out of school but if I see someone is up set or lonely, I will go play with them or make them feel included. My teacher told me I was a good role model for the younger girls at school because I am teaching them to be kind as well.

10. What has Karting taught you about life?

IIijana: Girls can do anything no matter what it is. You just have to believe in yourself. Oh and GIRLS RACE TOO!

Follow her journey on IG or Facebook


Know another inspiring young teen or want to be featured? 

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