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Maria Alexiadis OAM

If ever an Olympic medal were to be handed out for ‘quiet achiever’ or ‘infectious enthusiasm’ then Maria Alexiadis would surely be atop the dais. The Gold Medallist from the 2009 Oceania Championships narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Tokyo Games but has since added a medal of a different kind to her collection.

In the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Maria received an OAM for service to karate. Maria has done it all in the sport – athlete, coach, coaching education coordinator, development coordinator, board member and now the first-ever female president of Karate Victoria. But you won’t hear her talking up her achievements.

Maria Alexiadis OAM competing in karate

“As honoured as I am to receive an award, I’m not a talker as such. I am someone who simply sees what needs to be done and does it. For me, it’s all about serving the members.

“I want to be the person in karate who jumps in and helps make the sport better.”

Maria says the most satisfying aspect of receiving an OAM is that it means she has had a positive impact on people’s lives.

“I was genuinely surprised at finding out I had been nominated. I really had no idea. It made me feel really special and was a great honour for me and particularly our sport.”

Maria acknowledges that the sport of karate is not as high profile as, say, swimming or track and field but is buoyed by the fact that it was included in the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo and hopes that helps generate interest in her sport.

“I think everyone should get involved in a sport, not just because of the health benefits but the important traits it teaches you like commitment and having a passion for something.”

Maria Alexiadis OAM poses with colleagues

The self-effacing Maria is quick to heap praise on family and friends who have been with her on her journey every step of the way, through good times and bad.

“Receiving the OAM was wonderful for my family and friends. I share the medal with them as they are big part of it.

“I think it’s important that people are recognised for contributing to their community. It helps inspire others to make a positive difference.

“There are so many people in the community doing good work and more people should be nominating people!”