After a stellar year which has exceeded Costa Toparis' expectations, the young motorsports star has been named a finalist for Young Athlete of the Year at the Sports NSW Awards.
The 15-year-old Goulburn resident was nominated by Karting NSW, after a season in which he has claimed 50 race wins and was one of six drivers from around the world selected to be a part of the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy Scouting World Finals.
When he found out that he was a finalist, Costa said he felt "privileged" to have been recognised out of all of the state's high-achieving athletes.
"There's a lot of high-achieving sportsmen in the same category as me," Costa said.
"I felt really privileged and grateful for the opportunity. It's definitely not easy, as this year's been a struggle due to COVID. I feel terrific and it's a privilege to be a part of a great award which is shared by a lot of very high-quality sportsmen."
As the young man indicated, the year has been difficult for all sporting codes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly after NSW entered a statewide lockdown in mid-August.
This does, however, make Costa's achievements all the more remarkable, as he has retained unerring consistency in his racing despite the constant interruptions.
His success, Costa believes, can be attributed to his hard work during the breaks, in which time he remained focused on his goals.
"The start of the year, we had a green light, and then there was a few changes early in the year, and then there was that big four-month break," he said.
"Our first race back was [Saturday], and that transition happened because we had a lot of practice before we went and a lot of preparation physically and mentally.
"Because as soon as you're back, everything comes back, the adrenaline, pressure, and excitement of racing ... I definitely feel like I came back strong. That big break gave me a lot of time to think about karting itself, and I was quite physically and mentally prepared to come back."
With several important events scheduled for the end of the year, Costa is looking to finish on a high note ahead of the awards dinner, which is scheduled for January 24, 2022.
On the night, Mark Webber (Motor Racing), Mick Fanning (Surfing), Naomi Flood (Surf Lifesaving and Kayaking), Kerri Pottharst (Beach Volleyball), and Harry Williams (Football) inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions, while Mark Ella (Rugby Union) will be elevated to Legend status.
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