COMPETITORS from the New England region have brought home a trove of gold and silver after vying in the WorldSkills Australia 2018 National Championships in Sydney.
Courtney Baldwin won gold in hairdressing, Joe Ussher won gold in auto electrical, Dayna Moyses won silver in cookery and Jack McKemey won silver in VETiS primary industries.
They all either live or study in the region, and some could now be chosen to represent Australia in Kazan, Russia, in 2019.
Courtney said it had been “an action-packed three days”.
“I did feel the pressure, but it wasn’t like negative pressure; it was very exciting – an adrenaline rush, that’s for sure,” she said.
“I went in with my mindset of just doing my best and anything on top of that was just a bonus, so to win gold was just an amazing feeling.”
The Uralla resident is a third-year apprentice at Cooper & Co Hairdressing, Armidale, and studies at NSW TAFE Tamworth.
Joe is a student there as well, but lives and works in the Nambucca Heads area.
He said that after the three days of competition “I knew I’d had a pretty good crack and it was looking OK”.
He said being named a winner on Tuesday night had been such a “shock” he didn’t really remember it.
“I knew I got it once I was up there on stage, smiling, though,” he said.
Dayna said the competition “was amazing”.
“It really tests your limits and makes you think on your feet, which betters your chefing skills,” she said.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, but you get used to it after the first day.
“Then you just put your head down and your bottom up, focus and try to do the best you can.”
The TAFE students were accompanied by, among others, regional WorldSkills co-ordinator Cameron Falzon, who was also a cookery judge in sections that didn’t include Dayna.
Mr Falzon said the wins were “very good for the region” and “the best we’ve ever done”.
“I put it down to the commitment of the students, the great training and support from their mentors at TAFE, and their employers getting involved and supporting their young apprentices.”
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