There’s nothing Zahra Kell loves more than flying through the air on a wakeboard. Herskill and daring is very impressive – even more so when you learn she’s only eight!
The youngster is a world champion in the sport as well as a national champion snowboarder– and she takes it all in her stride.
‘I love to do big jumps, flips and grabs,’ says Zahra, who lives in Wisemans Ferry, NSW. ‘And when I’m snowboarding, I love powder days. It feels like riding on clouds.’
Forget learning to walk, atjust 18 months Zahra was riding between her father’s legs on a wakeboard, and by three she was doing it alone. Then at four she fell in love with snowboarding.
But it’s no surprise Zahra is so talented – her dad Scott, 41, was one of Australia’s first professional wakeboarders, and her parents met while water-ski racing as teens.
‘It wasn’t a case of her having to take up these sports,’ says mum Sally, 33. ‘But she loved being in water from an early age and watching her dad doing wakeboarding tricks.’
Sally admits sometimes her motherly instincts kick in and she worries for Zahra.
‘I make sure she wears all the protective clothing I can find!’ she says.
‘But she’s naturally talented. She once kneed herself in the chin and chipped a tooth, but that’s the worst so far.’
Last year Zahra went to Italy for the World Wakeboarding Championships, winning her division.
She then won three golds and one silver in the Unbound snowboarding series in the US.
And they’re not the only sports to tickle her fancy. ‘If I had to pick something else, I’d be a skateboarder,’ she giggles.
‘And surfing looks really fun. The only thing that scares me is sharks.’
But for now Zahra will keep to the two pursuits she does so well. ‘I think as long as she enjoys them, she won’t be giving either of them up,’ Sally says.
By Lisa Harmer
Photos: Nigel Wright