My journey began in March 2016. I suffered a knee dislocation playing a pre-season match of Rugby Union for the Tuggeranong Vikings Women’s team. As a result, my main artery and nerve in my right leg were severed along with tearing multiple ligaments in my knee. This led to many surgeries and multiple hospital stays on my road to recovery. Countless hours of rehabilitation and determination led me to try rowing in November 2017.
Through rehabilitation, I was able to say goodbye to crutches a year after the accident. Shortly after, I was able to start thinking about sport. I attended a para-sport Train 4 Tokyo open day. After attending, I was given a recommendation to try rowing, cycling, wheelchair tennis, or wheelchair basketball. I caught up with the para-rowing talent ID coordinator and joined Capital Lakes Rowing Club boat and have loved it ever since.
I participated in the Head of the Yarra Rowing Race in Melbourne in November 2017 as part of a para-rowing development camp. Para-rowing gives people with impairments in the rowing community the opportunity to participate in a sport with others who have similar impairments.
In January 2018, I started training regularly at Capital Lakes Rowing Club in Canberra. I competed at the Australian Rowing Nationals after only 10 weeks of training. After a successful campaign at Nationals, I was invited to trial for the Australian Para-rowing team. I was selected as part of the PR3* mixed coxed four crew who travelled to Plovidiv, Bulgaria in September 2018 to compete at the Rowing World Championships.
Leading into the World Championships, I continued to work within the Canberra Hospital Intensive Care Unit as a Registered Nurse whilst also training 5-6 days a week in preparation for the competition. At the World Rowing Championships we made the A final and finished 5th in the world.
This achievement would not have been possible without the support of my friends, family, coaches, colleagues, and managers. Management were able to provide support to make sure that I was able to come back to the work place after a traumatic accident, and allowed me to follow my new found aspirations in rowing. There have been sacrifices along the way which have all been made easier thanks to my personal and professional support network. Having them behind me makes me look forward to surpassing my goals and the challenges that come along with them.
*a classification used for para rowers where you are able to use your entire body; however, the athlete has a physical impairment. This is classified through a rigorous assessment of the athlete prior to competing both nationally and again internationally.
Since competing in the 2018 Rowing World Championships, Nikki has been nominated as a finalist for Athlete of the Year - Para Sport for the CBR sport awards.