It was an exciting moment for Jeralee and her family as they celebrated the 16-year-old’s outstanding achievement.
She was among hundreds of talented dancers who took part in this year’s competition.
Jeri as she commonly known, said she had been taking part in the yearly event for about five years now but admitted to suffering from nerves before the big day.
“I’m always nervous whenever I take part.”
She said she was forever grateful to have two supportive parents and a family who were always there for her, “no matter what.”
Her grandfather, Rarotonga resident David Akanoa, said he was proud of her granddaughter’s achievement.
Akanoa said Jeralee and her parents moved to Hawaii in 2005 when she was only five. Jeralee’s father had also taken part in the competition in his younger days.
“I am proud my granddaughter is following her dad’s footsteps.”
He said Jeralee’s father, whose name is also David, had won the World Fire Knife Competition three times and was grateful his granddaughter had decided to follow her dad’s footsteps.
“It runs in her blood and I’m really proud of her achievement.
“I told my granddaughter that she does not represent her family, but the country as a whole.”
He said his granddaughter hoped to participate in the competition next year too.
The World Fire Knife Competition is a yearly event where fire knife dancers of all ages and differing levels of skill come together to compete in their respective divisions for the chance to win the coveted title of World Fireknife Champion.