by MATT HARRIS
VOLLEYBALL: Gladstone's Steven MacDonald only decided to get serious about Volleyball in February last year.
Now he's in love with the sport and about to represent his country.
The 19-year-old will represent the Australian under-23 volleyball team at the Asian Volleyball Championships to be held in Iran from May 1-9.
MacDonald is the youngest member in the 12-man squad, but at 207cm he's by no means a diminutive member of the side. Now based in Canberra where he attends the Australian Institute of Sport's Centre of Excellence, MacDonald balances full-time training with studying at the University of Canberra where he is completing a Bachelor of Laws.
MacDonald has dabbled in a number of sports over the years. He starting off playing junior rugby league before transitioning to track and field - specifically the 400 metres and high jump - and also basketball.
Positioning himself at middle blocker on the volleyball court, MacDonald was first introduced to the sport in high school.
He was offered a scholarship to Brisbane Grammar School at 16 specially for basketball but needed to choose another sport as well so decided to give volleyball a try.
"I played one term for three years but didn't start playing seriously until February last year,” MacDonald said. "I had the opportunity to come down to Canberra to play volleyball... I lost the love I had for basketball and had more fun playing for the guys at Gladstone Thunder.”
The AIS athlete found out he was selected for the Asian Championships last month, but had to keep the news under wraps for a number of weeks.
"I was over the moon - it was a like a dream come true,” he said. "It was really tough because I had to get stuff organised but couldn't tell anyone while making plans.”
The U23 squad will fly out to Poland tomorrow to attend a week-long training camp before hopping on a plane to Iran and Steven has no qualms about travelling to the Middle Eastern country.
"I'm excited and there's no real problems over there and I hear its amazing,” he said. "I'd like to do some sightseeing if I get the chance.”
Steven will be the youngest and most inexperienced member of the Australian U23s with the majority of the squad playing overseas.
"Everybody has represented Australia before except for me, but I've been around the guys before and they're an awesome group.”