3 April 2023

Hannah Kiefer awarded Canada Bay’s Young Citizen of the Year

One of Australia’s rising Taekwondo stars was honoured at the City of Canada Bay’s Citizens of the Year Awards earlier this year.

Performance Pathways athlete, Hannah Kiefer, won the community’s 2022 Young Citizen of the Year award for her success at national and international Taekwondo events as well as her coaching and leadership at Musa Taekwondo.

“I feel honoured to receive this award,” Kiefer said. “It is humbling to have my achievements and work recognised by Canada Bay, knowing there are so many people contributing to my community.”

The 17-year-old won gold at Australian Taekwondo’s National Championships in 2021 and 2022 as well as bronze and silver medals in the junior and senior divisions of last year’s Oceania Championships in Tahiti. Kiefer also proudly represented Australia at the 2022 Junior World Championships in Sofia.

“While I have worked and trained hard, I would not have this success without the support of my family, my coach Alex Sootho, Australian Taekwondo giving me the opportunity to be on the NSW Performance Pathway Program … my strength and conditioning coach Billy, and my physiotherapist Chris at the NSW Institute of Sport,” Kiefer said.

Her bumper 2021-22 also involved inspiring local youth at Five Dock, New South Wales, to pursue Taekwondo, not only for medals, but also for personal growth and development.

“I work with young athletes coaching and mentoring them and sharing my pathway and physical and mental struggles as a young athlete.

“Being a role model is important to me because I, myself, have developed as an athlete [whilst] having others to look up to.”

Musa Taekwondo’s Head Coach and Owner, Master Alex Sootho, says Kiefer has come a long way since her Taekwondo journey began ten years ago.

“I was very proud and happy for Hannah, and her family, for receiving this prestigious award. She is definitely a well deserving recipient,” Master Sootho said.

“Hannah came to Musa Taekwondo as a quiet and shy young girl… She started training here in 2013, ten years ago, with her older sister, Grace. They were later followed by her youngest sister, Sophia, then her parents Tanya and Keith. They are now a family of Black Belts who are actively involved in the growth of the club and the team.”

Master Sootho said a decade of training and education at Musa Taekwondo, combined with the humble values of her “very supportive family”, has given Kiefer a solid foundation to not only succeed on the mats, but in all aspects of her life.

“Besides being a successful Taekwondo athlete from a young age, Hannah has always been very respectful, humble, polite, loyal, hardworking and a trustworthy person. Hannah is definitely a role model to all our members of all ages.

“It’s amazing to see how Hannah has grown over the years to become the model citizen and humble athlete she is now. It’s definitely a satisfying moment as a coach to watch a student grow to become a champion in Taekwondo and a champion in life.”

Kiefer’s father, Ken, said he and her mother, Tanya, are extremely proud and humbled by the community’s recognition of her achievements.

“We are very proud of Hannah and what she has accomplished. Despite that, we were surprised and humbled by not just someone from the community nominating her, but her winning. We are very proud not only of her accomplishments but how this award speaks to her character, in working on bettering herself and contributing to helping people and young athletes around her,” Mr Kiefer said.

Training with the rest of her family has played a significant part in Kiefer taking her game to new heights, according to Mr Kiefer.

“Having someone other than your coach or parent who is close to you and supports you is a great blessing. They not only train and push each other but they are also there for each other to pick each other up when things are tough and after disappointing performances.

“All three of my daughters have developed a lot through their personal journey in the Taekwondo Martial Art, teaching and coaching.

“Alex Sootho and the Musa Taekwondo community have been a huge part of our family… To have Alex and that community there for my daughters as they develop through their teenage years has been a huge blessing to us as parents. Whether doing the martial art or sports taekwondo it has given everyone, of all ages in our family, something to challenge and grow yourself personally as well as be part of the community.

“Hannah has become a fuller person by being a Taekwondo athlete. She has learned a lot at a young age about self-discipline and perseverance through the physical and mental challenges that come with competing at that level and being part of a local club has given her opportunities to use her learning to teach and coach.”

While Kiefer has already achieved so much, she sees her accolades to date, as merely the beginning. Having just completed her junior years in the sport, she’s more motivated than ever to push for further success at senior level.

“My biggest highlight [so far] is representing Australia internationally and competing with the top athletes in the world, particularly at the 2019 Cadet World Championships and 2022 Junior World Championships.”

“My goal over the next year is to medal at international events and represent Australia as a senior athlete.”

She will now build her experience as a senior athlete across Australia and the international circuit whilst managing her training around school work and HSC exams.

As Master Sootho puts it, “[it’s] a new challenge that we’re very excited to take… the hard work begins…”

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