By Scott Ellis

Isabella Clarke Australia's JESC representative.

Isabella Clarke Australia’s JESC representative.

The day after taking third place in the 2017 Junior Eurovision Song Contest, Australian Isabella Clarke is still amazed.

The 13-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl had travelled to Tbilisi in Georgia to take on the world’s best, singing the power-pop anthem Speak Up.

She knew the song was good and was hoping she could beat Australia’s previous best result in the event – fifth place in 2016 by Alexa Curtis in 2016 – but when the results were announced on November 26 she did even better than that.

‘It was incredible’

First place went to Russia’s Polina Bogusevich with her song Wings. Home-town favourite, Georgian Grigol Kipshidze, singing Voice of the Heart came second, and in third place … Australia!

“It was incredible,” Isabella said the morning after her win, between frantically packing for her long trip home.

“It was so exciting and I’m so proud of how we went. It was incredible.”

Australia's Junior Eurovision Song Contest entrant Isabella Clarke performing her song 'Speak Up' in rehearsals. Photo: JUSC, Thomas Hanses

Australia’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest entrant Isabella Clarke performing her song ‘Speak Up’ in rehearsals. Photo: JUSC, Thomas Hanses

No nerves

Isabella, who had been in Tbilisi for more than a week rehearsing for the event that would be broadcast to a television audience of more than four million people around the world, said she hadn’t had too many nerves before the performance.

“Performing to the audience was just amazing and for me it was easier than the rehearsals,” she said.

“With the rehearsals it was in an empty arena, but for the performances you have the crowd and their energy and that made it somehow easier.”

Australia's Junior Eurovision Song Contest entrant Isabella Clarke performing her song 'Speak Up' in rehearsals. Photo: JUSC, Thomas Hanses

Australia’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest entrant Isabella Clarke performing her song ‘Speak Up’ in rehearsals. Photo: JUSC, Thomas Hanses

Long, long trip home

Not so easy was the next day, when Isabella had just a few short hours to check out of her hotel, say goodbye to the friends she had made and catch the first of three flights home.

What happens next, she said, remains to be seen.

“I honestly am just waiting to see what happens,” she said. “I don’t have anything planned. I don’t know what will come in the future, but I’m just excited to see what comes.”

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