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 youth sensation Sahara Weil. Soar Active had the privilege to catch up with Sahara and chat about her love for Equestrian vaulting, which is basically a combination of dance and gymnastics on a moving horse.
1. Sahara, tell us about your early life?
I grew up with my younger sister Sassi, in the same farm house we live in today. We have a beautiful 8 acre organic farm in Bellingen on which my mum has 3 farmstays, so we were always meeting different travellers from all over the world and learning about different cultures.
I had an idyllic childhood running around the farm with our chickens, horses, sheep and goats and growing our own food.
I was homeschooled at that time so life felt a lot freer, we did what we wanted when we wanted and I loved the spontaneity that came with that.
We all had to help out on our farm so I was feeding the horses and chickens each morning and putting them away on dark from five years old.
My mum raised me to be strong, independent and capable. Being raised by a single mum and by women ( my mum is gay) has meant I've grown up watching, thinking and believing that women can do everything because that's all I know.
2. So how did you discover Equestrian Vaulting?
When I was 9, I wanted to do trick riding. My mum went online to find out more, when she came across a Facebook post of someone doing equestrian vaulting, assuming they were the same thing she took me to try it out.
I absolutely loved it. After my mum saw how passionate I was about it, she has supported me on my journey, where I continue to vault and grow in this sport.
3. What was your next step?
My next step was to try and find a coach who would be able to help me with my journey towards my goals. My current coach is Steph Dore, Australia's best female Vaulter and she has helped me transform into the vaulter I am today, a strong athlete with clear goals and humility.
Most of my lessons with Steph are done via zoom on a static vaulting barrel (a pretend horse) as there are no horses where I live to train on.
I'm now starting my preparations to qualify for the junior worlds and I'm traveling overseas for a few months each year to train and compete in France and Europe. There I can train intensively with their team and horses.
4. How do you balance your competitive training and managing school?
Well it's very tricky, but for me it really just depends on which one is more of a priority, if I have a big assignment or test then that overrides training, and vice versa for competitions.
However, mum is in the process of enrolling me into Distance Education so I can be more flexible with my training and school work.
5. What do you do in your downtime?
I have many hobbies, so it just depends on my mood. Some days I'll ride my horses, draw, read, bake, swim, or enjoy time with my family and friends, however sometimes I'm so tired and nothing feels better than some Netflix with a cup of tea.
6. What makes you feel happy, brave, and strong?
The gym, vaulting and gymnastics feed my physical side, so I feel physically strong which in turn makes me mentally strong.
Vaulting gives me joy, spending time with my loved ones, my animals, being in nature and being on our beautiful farm makes me happy.
Anytime I step outside of my comfort zone I feel brave, trying new things, taking risks, giving something a go …if I challenge myself I feel stronger as a person, and that makes me happy.
7. Tell us about a special moment in the last year?
A lot has happened this year already, so many amazing things, so I feel very grateful, but I think winning the NSW State interschool championships in April earlier this year was definitely very special.
The win allowed me to qualify for the next class helping me get one step closer to my goals. It felt great heading off to France in May this year with that behind me.
8. What is your ultimate goal?
My ultimate goal for vaulting is to win the world championships, however my current goal is to represent the Junior world championships in 2025.
9. What's your favourite attribute about yourself?
My sense of humour, I love to laugh and make fun of myself. It also helps me keep things in perspective. My mum and I laugh about everything.
I am a very self driven and disciplined person when I am pursuing something I love. Having no access to a horse or coach where I live, means I train alone everyday on my static barrel, in the gym, and going to gymnastic lessons.
I also cope well under pressure, being able to stay calm and positive when competing or trying new tricks that scare me at first.
Being able to stay calm while competing is very important for helping the horse manage their own nerves as they pick up on their vaulters feelings.
10. Favourite song on repeat right now?
I've been loving “In my bones” by Ray Dalton
11. What has vaulting taught you about life?
Vaulting has taught me resilience, from holding myself together during a tough training session and feeling like I'm going backwards, to competing and knowing any mistakes are water off a duck's back, which allows me to focus on the rest of the routine.
Resilience not only supports my training, but everyday life, teaching me that no matter the obstacle I can get through it, knowing I did my best.
Vaulting has taught me the ability to handle any challenge, never knowing what's going to happen next. Being flexible and accepting the situation allows me to make quick alterations to my routines before competing. Teaching me humility, versatility which allows me to go with the flow.
12. What would you say to other young females about following their dreams?
Go follow those big amazing dreams! Dreams make us feel alive, and you'll never know if you don’t give it a try, so go and find out for yourself.
Even if you lack access to resources, if you want it badly enough you can learn to adapt and work with what you do have and not what you don’t.
I think it's better to go after your dreams and perhaps fail, knowing you did your best, rather than never trying at all for fear of failing.
What you'll learn along the way to realising your dreams will probably be more valuable than the dream itself … so either way you win.
13. Who is inspiring you at the moment?
There is not one individual that I take inspiration from, I take inspiration from so many people, some are vaulters and some are not. From world champion vaulters to backyard gymnasts, everything and anyone can be an inspiration to me.
Follow Sahara's inspiring journey on Instagram
Know another inspiring young teen or want to be featured?
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