Australian track and field athlete Mikeala Selaidinakos aims to qualify for Paris Olympics

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By Bill Roumeliotis

On Thursday, April 25, the Australian track and field athletes will depart for the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24, which will be held in the Bahamas from May 4-5.

The World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24 will also be a qualifying tournament for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Australia’s delegation includes Greek expatriate track and field athlete, Mikeala Selaidinakos. The Greek Herald met with Mikeala to discuss her journey up until now.

Mikeala was born in Melbourne, Victoria and was raised in the suburb of Coburg. Her father was born in Athens, Greece and her mother has Lebanese heritage.

Mikeala told The Greek Herald she didn’t know in the beginning that she wanted to be a track and field athlete.

“I started playing sports completely by accident at the age of just 8 years old. A girlfriend asked me to join her and compete with her in competitions at the Coburg Harriers Athletic Club where she was registered. I accepted and even came first in all the events I participated in. From there I realised that I was very fast, I liked it and that was my start. I stayed at Coburg Harriers Athletic Club until I was 16 and then moved to Athletics Essendon to make the most of my talent and aspirations,” Mikeala said.

Michaela Silaidinakos.

Asked if her skills give her a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Mikeala revealed it’s all part of being able to qualify.

“It’s a very difficult threshold they have set for qualifying for Paris, the time is 50 seconds, so I need to improve my personal best by two seconds. Many athletes in Australia find it difficult to meet the thresholds, but some of them are selected to compete based on their ranking in their event,” she said.

“I personally believe I am ranked No. 2 in Australia and may be selected as the No. 1 athlete who recently won the 400 metre event in Adelaide.”

Mikeala then told us that she will be given the opportunity to compete in the Olympic Games in the Women’s 4x400m relay event.

“I will be given the opportunity to compete in Paris 2024 with the Women’s 4x400m relay team if we place in the top 16 relay teams in the Bahamas, where the World Track and Field Relay Tournament will be held from May 4-5. This is my big chance to take part in the Olympic Games in Paris,” she said.

On what advice she would give to young kids who want to get involved in athletics and sports in general, the Greek Australian athlete told us:

“To rely on themselves and enjoy what they do. From a young age when I started athletics, my parents just supported me and were happy that I was competing. They didn’t tell me, ‘you have to win, you have to come first.’ They always told me to have fun and enjoy it and that’s what I try to do and I always advise young people and young women to take the stress out of it and enjoy it. If one day you don’t do well, you don’t have to carry it with you and think, ‘why didn’t I do well or next time I will fail,’ you need to relax, you don’t gain anything by having stress. I do it personally now that we are in the Olympic qualifying period.”

I asked Mikeala next about her long surname that is on her jersey when she plays, – SELAIDINAKOS.

“It’s very beautiful, I feel good and I’m proud to have my long Greek surname ‘Selaidinakos’ on my jersey. When I am racing, many announcers with humour ask me how to say my surname. I am very proud to carry my Greek surname to the races,” she said.

“I am very proud of my heritage, my father is Greek and was born in Athens, my mother was born in Australia to Lebanese parents. I feel proud to carry Greek and Lebanese culture. I love Greek and Lebanese music and enjoy it at celebrations and parties, in our home, relatives and friends’ homes.”

Australian track and field athlete Mikeala Selaidinakos aims to qualify for Paris Olympics
Australian track and field athlete Mikeala Selaidinakos aims to qualify for Paris Olympics. Photo by Bill Roumeliotis.

As for her future in athletics, Mikeala said her road to success has come with its fair share of challenges.

“I’m 25 years old and at twenty I looked like I had a bright career ahead of me. Unfortunately, many injuries have prevented me from doing many races and have set me back quite a bit. Over the last year I have overcome the injury problems and have already achieved my first goal of competing for the first time outside of Australia at the international world championships with Team Australia in the Bahamas, where I will be competing against top names in world athletics. Then there’s the World Championships I think in China and I’m waiting to see what happens with the Commonwealth Games,” she said.

Mikeala expressed that apart from athletics, she is a part-time teacher, as due to her athletic commitments she has to train twice a day, and there is no time for full time work.

Mikeala will depart for the Bahamas on Wednesday, April 24.

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