Taekwondo brothers primed for Scotland
WHEN you come from a family of 13, you quickly learn the value of teamwork.
That's probably why Somerset taekwondo brothers Stephen, Michael and John Kakakios are rising rapidly up the ranks.
The closeknit trio is preparing to represent Australia together for the first time at next month's sixth Commonwealth championships in Scotland.
But that's only the start of their remarkable family achievement.
Stephen, 19, Michael, 17, and John, 15, will be part of the national team contesting their Olympic sport in Edinburgh from November 15-16.
Stephen and Michael have previously competed or attended training camps overseas.
However, their younger brother is joining the latest trip after also impressing at this year's Australian Open in Sydney.
The trio's 18-year-old sister Petra was 2010 Oceania champion but missed the Scottish trip due to her studies.
"It's an amazing opportunity," an excited Stephen said of heading to Edinburgh.
"We train hard, four to six hours a day and it's paid off."
With such strong support from sporting parents Mark and Melissa, oldest brother Stephen said the Kakakios household was like a mini club.
The 11 children all train in the family's gym in the Ottaba region, between Toogoolawah and Esk.
"At the moment, we are under the Olympic coach who is situated down in Sydney," Stephen said.
"Whenever we get a chance, that's where we train."
Other members of the extraordinary family are Anna (14), William (13), Leah (12), Samuel (10), Maia (9), Sarah (8) and Esta (4).
Stephen previously competed at the US Open and had a three-month training scholarship in Korea where he was the youngest of the group.
"That was a real eye-opener," he said. "I came back and from there I started doing really well."
Stephen is a first dan black belt along with Michael and John.
Michael has twice contested the junior world championships.
It will be John's first overseas trip.
"We're kind of happy that he can have his two older brothers to watch out for him," Stephen said.
"I'm pretty sure we're the only family on the Australian team with three competing."
Stephen, Michael and John joined their siblings in learning taekwondo from an early age.
"That was the first thing that we did and we just loved it," Stephen said.
"The dynamics, the kicks were amazing. It was like this is where we were meant to be."
In Edinburgh, Stephen will compete in the senior under-54kg division, with Michael in juniors under-55kg and John in under-45kg.