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After almost three and a half years out due to a long illness, Enniskillen rower Holly Nixon made a remarkable return to competition, on Sunday last.
Holly and her partner Saskia Budgett produced a spectacular final 500m to pip the Netherlands in the women’s double sculls and win bronze for Great Britain.
A mere six-hundredths of a second separated third and fourth place and for the Fermanagh athlete it was her little niece, Lydia and nephew, Jasper, that drove her on in those final stages.
“I always message my sister the night before and I always say I race with my head for 1500 and then with my whole heart in the last 500. I always think of my little niece and nephew when it really hurts. I told her to watch out because that’s what I’m thinking about, that’s my motivation. She was crying in the last 500 because she knew that’s what I was thinking about.”
When the pair crossed the finish line Holly says it took about five minutes to figure out if they had actually won a medal.
“We were just sort of sitting there looking and looking and I said to Romania, ‘did you see? Did you see?’ and they were like, ‘no, sorry’ and then it came up on this board and we were looking at this board and our vision was still gone from pushing ourselves so hard and then the Romanians said, ‘congratulations’ and my partner just started crying. That realisation set in pretty quickly.”
After the initial elation subsided, the impact of such a gruelling race set it.
“Your legs are screaming, your lungs are screaming. I threw up four times after our race, so I didn’t make any of the interviews, so my partner was sort of talking and keeping one eye on me to make sure I was okay.
“The lactic acid hits your body like no other, it’s crazy, you feel the pain in the race but when you stop, the first ten minutes is absolutely horrendous- the most horrific thing in the world because you just try and breathe through it, but your whole body is just absolutely screaming.”
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Posted: 7:07 pm April 14, 2021
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