As the Commonwealth Games begin today (Wednesday), world champion rower Holly Nixon has encouraged the young athletes of Fermanagh to follow their dreams.
A past student of Devenish College, the 24-year-old who is originally from Enniskillen was a former member of Portora Boat Club. Holly was recently back home in Fermanagh and attended an event held by Enniskillen Rotary Club to mark Commonwealth Day where she was one of the guest speakers.
The rower, who started at a young age, is now based in London and rows for Team GB. She hopes that some of the current rowers at Enniskillen Royal Boat Club will pursue a career in the sport and join her!
Speaking to the Herald, she said
“I am following them all the time and the club is absolutely thriving. I am probably a wee bit biased but if you look at the statistics they are one of the most successful clubs in Ireland. Some day some of them might end up over here with me – I would love some of them to try, but it is a tough career. I would really like to think that they could back themselves enough to try and push themselves because I was in their shoes when I was 16 or 17. If someone asked me then if I thought I would be doing what I am doing then now, I would be saying no – so they are in that phase. They need to see it in themselves and take a leap of faith and back themselves.”
Recently at the Fermanagh Herald Sports Awards, Holly scooped the top award on the night as Sports Person of the Year – following winning the bronze medal at the World Championships.
Team GB commitments meant the Enniskillen woman was unable to attend on the night, but her family, father Keith, mother Lily and brother James Nixon collected the award on her behalf.
World success has only given Nixon a taste for more, and she is now fiercely focused on the 2020 Olympics and she currently trains six days a week.
Holly explained that she now leads a “very different sort of life.”
“Rowing has gone from my hobby, to being my job. I definitely do it because I love the sport rather than from a financial point of view or for a celebrity sort of life. The simplicity of rowing as a sport is still something I really enjoy and it is just a bonus that I get paid and have a great team around me.”
While Holly is living her dream, the dedication and discipline that her career requires can sometimes present its struggles. Spending majority of her time in London, Holly only gets home four times a year which can take its toil.
She explains, “The community I have behind me is quite a big motivation. I think it Is very important that people know where you are from and who has got you to where you are because it can be quite easy to drift off. When my grandad died, I flew home for the funeral and flew back because it was days before the World Championships. That was another test as I hadn’t really lost anyone before and my aunties sat me down and said there is no way you aren’t going back to compete – your grandad would want this. If I didn’t have that support then I don’t think I would have got to where I am. Family comes first and they mean so much to me that if they couldn’t accept it, I probably wouldn’t do it.”