A 16-year-old boxer will represent NZ at the World Youth Championships in India next month, but Shylah Waikai's big target is the Olympics.
Despite her tender age, Shylah Waikai is ready to punch her weight on the big stage.
She says “My speed is definitely my advantage, I learned that from a young age. That's because I'm really light for my age.”
The Waikato-Tainui descendant is from Huntly and now trains and lives on the Gold Coast. In July this year she won Silver at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas representing New Zealand.
Proud dad Mete Waikai says wearing the silver fern was a no brainer. “She said ‘Dad I'm a Māori, I'm fighting for back home for New Zealand’ and that was her choice.”
“My family made me feel like I got the gold, so that was the main thing that touched me. But overall I'm proud of my achievements, I never thought I would get to that point. Next time its gold!' says Waikai.
Damien O'Connor has been coaching Shylah since she was only 12-years-old. He says she's one to watch, ”The thing with Shylah is she's been consistent, she's stayed at it. Most kids they come, they go. That kids there every night and that's why she gets results.”
She hopes those results will see her at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “I'm definitely confident in getting picked because these trips have made me more experienced knowing what I'm going to come up against.”
The World Youth Championships begin on the 19 November.