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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 March 2018
26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 MARCH 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM A rising star on the track Louisa Lazar won the 800m race at the Little Athletics Championships, making the first step in what she aims to be a long career in NIKOS FOTAKIS One of the most rewarding aspects of the day-today workings of a community newspaper such as Neos Kosmos is to report on the achievements of fellow members of the community, particularly if it's about young people making their first steps into greatness and a promising future. Louisa Lazar is a perfect example of this. The 12-year-old aspiring athlete took part in the Little Athletics Victoria State Championships at the Lakeside Stadium recently, coming first in the 800m run. She also ran third in the 1,500 metres. "I felt proud and determined that, in future, I can win more things," she says. "I've been trying to win one of these things for about five years." If you're doing the maths at this stage, yes, this means that Louisa has been competing since the age of seven. Her mother, Helen Tatsis, says it started even earlier. "She was always very active, as a little kid, always running, she would never stop," she says and remembers a day when a 3-year-old Louisa found herself on a track and managed to do three laps. "So my husband and I thought to put her to the Little Athletics Sandringham centre, so she can run for as long as she wants." And Louisa Lazar herself certainly aims to keep running for a long time. Now that the Little Athletics season has ended, she's training to make the nationals for the cross-country championship in June. If she comes in the top 10 in Victoria, then she can make the state team, reaching her short-term goal. From that point on, the sky is the limit. Maybe she'll follow the footsteps of her aunt Maria Tatsis, who took part in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with the Greek Women's Weight-lifting team. "I'm surrounded by athletes," says Louisa. "My relatives have done lots of things in sports and that has inspired me." That's her Greek side talking, the one she says makes her "feel stronger" and helps her follow the strict disciplined regime of an athlete, sleeping early and avoiding sugar and following a different lifestyle to most preteens. She doesn't seem to mind. Because she knows that what she has gained is far more important. "Running has improved my self-esteem," she says. "I've never been confident before. When I'm running, if I'm behind, I feel that the race can change, later on. I can get in front by pushing further and pushing my limits, even going past them." If there's a better metaphor for life lesson, I don't know what it is. Dimi Petratos living the Socceroos dream CON STAMOCOSTAS It's been a massive year for Greek Australian winger Dimi Petratos. As well as starring for Newcastle Jets in the A-League and becoming a dad for the first time, he also made his first Socceroos squad. Petratos, 25, is currently in Europe with the Socceroos who, in preparation for June's World Cup in Russia, are playing two international friendlies against Norway and Columbia. Speaking from the Socceroos camp base in Norway, Petratos says he's buzzing about being with the Australian national team as it prepares to take on the Norwegians on Saturday morning 4.00 am AEST. "I'm enjoying myself very much, the players are good, the coaching staff has been good and the camp has been going good so far," the Jets star revealed. "It's very clear what the coach wants. The first session was good and I'm looking forward to being part of the rest of the training sessions." Speaking to Australian media soon after he announced his 26-player Soc- ceroos squad, new national team coach Bert van Marwijk, told reporters that the Greek Australian midfielder had impressed him. "I saw four games in Australia and I saw one interesting game from Newcastle Jets," the Dutchman revealed. "And that's why I nominated (Andrew) Nabbout and Petratos. I am very curious how they perform next week." Petratos revealed that when he got the call to join the Socceroos squad he was still in bed. "I got the text message pretty early in the morning saying the coach had selected you and congratulations," he says. "It was out of nowhere but a very good feeling. I was on a day off from the Jets so I was still sleeping so when I woke up and saw my name in the squad I was pretty stoked about it. "I feel really happy that I was announced in the squad, I'm looking forward to it. It's every Aussie player’s dream to represent their country and hopefully I get the chance to get some game time." It's been a stellar year for Petratos whose form in the domestic competition has seen him deliver his best results in terms of goals and assists. After coming on the bottom of the A-League ladder last season the exciting winger's nine goals and 10 assists, the second highest in the competition, has lifted Newcastle to second place. Petratos admitted that his form with the Jets helped him earn his first call-up to the Socceroos. "After a few games in the A-League this season the media started talking a bit about me being in the Socceroos, but I didn't pay much attention," he says. "I just started to play my game and continued going like I had, and I thought if it happens it happens. I think it also helped just getting the basics right and keeping my head down and getting on with it. I've been focused on trying to assist my teammates trying to get on the scoresheet as well and combining on the front third and try the best to entertain the fans." Prior to joining the Jets, Petratos was with Korean side Ulsan Hyundai but soon after arriving at the club he found himself on the outer due to a new coach. With his wife pregnant at the time he found himself at a crossroads. "I just thought, we're having a baby and so we'll go back to Australia and have the baby and come back to Newcastle and just regroup," he told Neos Kosmos. "Because when I went to Korea it happened so fast. I had 24 hours to decide and had to make the decision quickly. So I came to Newcastle to get myself back on board with the A-League and have a fresh start again and I just worked hard and whatever happened along the way was just a bonus." The two Socceroos friendly games are an opportunity for fringe players like Petratos to highlight their credentials ahead of the World Cup in Russia and the winger is hoping to be on the plane come June. "It's a dream to play for the Aussie team," he says. "But I'll just take it one step at a time. It's great experience being involved with the training sessions and the two games so I'm looking forward to it. I just hope to go with the flow really. I just go to go out and do my best and whatever happens, happens."
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