Mika Ireste is a leading player in the brutal and sometimes dangerous contact sport of roller derby. She plays in Wales for Swansea City under the name ‘Little Myy’ and also for Team Wales as ‘Ireste’.
The sport involves two teams skating the same way around a track. Both teams have a ‘jammer’ who scores by lapping opposing team members. Team members try to assist their jammer and hinder the jammer of the opposing team at the same time. Roller Derby is known for the fast-paced action and sprains and bruises are common. More serious injuries like concussion and broken bones mean that emergency medical teams are a standard requirement.
- Welsh national team member
- Swansea City player
- Played at the World Cup
In 2014 Mika competed in the Roller Derby ‘Blood & Thunder’ World Cup in Dallas alongside two of her Swansea City team mates. “So many of my teammates in Swansea were watching. Getting messages of how well they thought me and my two other Swansea team mates there were doing about how proud and excited they were was such a great feeling. To know how proud they were that I was representing them made me even more proud to be doing it.”
Mika has been vegan since the age of four – her parents’ decision. However, she told us “I’m lucky to have been raised this way.” The family were originally pescetarian, her father led the way with her mother soon joining him. “The emotional connection between cows and their calves as well as the detrimental health impacts of dairy consumption was a key discovery for her.”
Apart from a two week experiment while at school, Mika has been vegan ever since. The experiment was her idea and involved a switch to lacto-vegetarianism. She soon went back to a vegan diet after less than a week.
Now she fuels the demands on her body with a lot of potato in her diet. Mika also gets a lot of protein from lentils, broccoli, beans and tofu.
Vegans on the team
Team mates are supportive and respectful of Mika’s choices in this respect. “Everyone is very inclusive when there are occasions in which being vegan could potentially single me out, such as team meals out. There are other vegans and vegetarians in the teams I’m in so that is really nice. My teammates and friends have sometimes shouted to me on the track ‘Use your vegan powers!’”
Experiences in the World Cup and an exciting league campaign seem to have sparked even more enthusiasm that ‘Little Myy’ has for the sport. “I’m really looking forward to 2015 in derby” she told us as the season was about to start. “Swansea will be taking part in the British Championships and there will be a lot of exciting things to do in a second year with Team Wales. I plan to try out for Team Wales again, the World Cup was such an amazing experience, one I’d love the opportunity to have again.”
“I’d love to see the sport grow more in the future, have more people hear about it and recognise it as a sport that is entertaining to follow, much like they support their football and rugby teams.”
Following some injuries after the World Cup, Mika decided to retire and concentrate on her business as a massage therapist. She kept active with running and some challenging obstacle races, which she has enjoyed.
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