Canberra man Conor Simpson won an Irish Dancing World Championship in Montreal last week.
The economics and finance student is only the sixth Australian to win an individual world title.
Simpson’s father is from New Zealand, but his mother, Monica, has Irish ancestry. “Mum is an Irish dance teacher so that’s how I became involved in dancing,” he told the Irish Echo.
He has spent quite a bit of time in Ireland. “In 2013 I spent my gap year in Belfast living and training with Gerard Carson who is a five times World Champion,” he said.
“It was a brilliant experience and I loved getting to know all the Irish kids in the class; they have become like family to me. This year I went back to Belfast to train and compete for six weeks during the summer. This experience was invaluable in helping me prepare for the World Championships.”
Simpson says winning in Montreal was a dream come true. “It was an incredible experience and the greatest thrill. I have been third before and that was fantastic, but to be the champion was amazing.
“When the results were read out I was surrounded by a large contingent of Aussies and some of my Irish classmates and it was fantastic to share the moment with them all,” he said.
In further Australian success in Canada, Liam Costello, 11, from West Pennant Hills in Sydney placed fourth in his age group. This is the second year in row he was placed in the top five.
Meanwhile, at another Irish dancing championships in Dusseldorf, Germany, a young Australian competitor broke his leg.
Fletcher Austin, 17, was the first Northern Territorian to compete at the World Irish Dancing Association Championships.
Disaster struck in the penultimate round and he had to pull out.
“With the impact of some of the dances I broke my tibia,” he told ABC radio in Darwin.
“I competed in three rounds and attempted the fourth with a broken leg.”
Despite the leg break, Austin, who is a high school student, still ended up placing 14th.