BELMONT schoolgirl Siennah Pirona cried as she stood on a podium in Holland and was named a world champion.
They were tears of happiness, she said by phone yesterday from the historic Dutch city of Dordrecht after winning gold in the cadet division of the world sports aerobics championships on Thursday night.
They were also tears for her father John who died in July.
‘‘I was happy because I didn’t think I’d win and I could see mum bawling her eyes out,’’ Siennah, 11, said.
‘‘I was also thinking about dad.’’
Mr Pirona committed suicide in July after leaving a note saying he was in ‘‘too much pain’’ after being sexually assaulted by a priest as a child.
In the weeks after his death Mr Pirona’s wife Tracey spoke about the pain of watching Siennah and her sister Lateisha, 7, growing and achieving without their father.
‘‘He was a wonderful, loving dad and so very proud of his beautiful daughters,’’ Mrs Pirona said.
Yesterday Siennah and Lateisha’s uncle Anthony Stevens said the family was thrilled by Siennah’s win in the Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness titles, and pleased for the community to celebrate on her behalf.
‘‘John can’t be there and she’s not able to celebrate that wonderful moment with her father. She will be thrilled to be in the paper, and the whole family has appreciated the support they’ve had from the region,’’ he said.
Siennah’s sports aerobics coach Allira Bull won gold in the senior female division.
Siennah said she was nervous in the rounds leading up to the finals, but when she walked onto the floor for her final routine the nerves fell away.
‘‘Mum was more nervous than me,’’ she said.
‘‘I’d been second in the early rounds but I thought I’d just go out and enjoy myself because I wasn’t going to be out there again.’’
The Jewells Public School student celebrated her win with hot chips.
‘‘I’ve had to eat healthy things for months so it’s great to eat some real food,’’ Siennah said.
A Newcastle Grammar School team placed eighth at the championships, and was the only Australian school team to be represented.
World title for Allira Bull
BELMONT North aerobics star Allira Bull has claimed a world title in The Netherlands.
The 22-year-old won gold in the senior women’s event at The Federation of International Sports, Aerobics and Fitness world championships in the early hours of yesterday morning.
‘‘It feels awesome. This is the biggest competition you can do,’’ Bull said.
The former Knights cheerleader said she had been training to win the title since she was 15 years old. She was a gymnast for seven years before moving into sports aerobics and training at Vivienne Lattimore Sport Aerobics, Adamstown.
FIttingly the theme and song for her winning routine was I’m a Machine.
Bull celebrated the win, surrounded by her family and fellow competitors, at a bar in Dordrecht yesterday.
It has been a huge year for the athlete who won the gold medal at the European championships in Prague in June.
She placed third at the world championships last year.
Aerobics is a popular sport in Europe. Tournaments are often televised and many of the competitors are sponsored.
Aerobics officials judge the two-minute routines of the competitors on skill, presentation, performance and fitness.