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OLYMPIC SOLIDARITYOLYMPIC REVIEW61What was it like growing up in the Cook Islands?I was actually born in New Zealand as my father leftthe Cook Islands to go to university. My family regularlytravels back to the Cooks as my grandmother andmany aunts, uncles and cousins all live there, either inRarotonga or Aitutaki -the two main islands. I love thesea, snorkelling, the lagoon and the coconut palms.The people are so friendly and family is what reallymatters, so I am lucky to live between the twocountries and have a blend of both cultures. How did you start canoeing?My brother started at school when he was12 and I just followed along. My school wasvery supportive of a large group of girls getting into the sport, which also helped.How has the Olympic Solidarity programme helped you?It has made it possible for me to keep paddling andcompeting, striving towards my goal of taking part in the Olympic Games. Without this support I wouldnot be able to combine study and paddling. I amtaking a year off university next year to train full-time in preparation for the Games.What do you use the funding for?The funding goes towards the costs of my coach,gym membership and expenses, travelling to trainingand racing. I have been to Europe twice this year for World Cups and World Championships.Who do you train with?In Dunedin, where I am studying, we have formed atraining group with New Zealand team member ShaunHiggins, and my brother Bryden and sister Jane whoare very supportive. My coach Aaron Osborne and I use the internet to review my progress and gettogether for white water sessions when we can. What does your training programme consist of?My training programme is written by Aaron. I usuallydo two training sessions per day and it changesaround a lot depending on what phase of training Iam in and when races are. Usually I do three-weekblocks of the same format followed by one week withmore rest. Because I live in Dunedin I don't haveregular access to a white water course, otherwisethis would make up a lot of my programme. Instead,I have to do mostly flatwater training and if it is toocold I use the kayaking ergo at my gym, along withcardio sessions and weight training. In winter we tryto mix it up and my coach gives me the option ofswimming and biking as well.How do you combine training with your studies?It's pretty tough. I have been learning to balancethem for such a long time that now I seem to keepmore on top of things. However, my course is ?INTERVIEWELLA NICHOLASTHIS AMBITIOUS CANOE ATHLETE HAS LONDON 2012 FIRMLY IN HER SIGHTSAS SHE AIMS TO BECOME ONLY THE SIXTH WOMAN FROM THE COOKISLANDS TO COMPETE IN AN OLYMPIC GAMES

showing its full support. It stands firmly behind me,but what I'm really looking forward to is what's tocome in the future. What are your targets for London 2012, shouldyou qualify for the Olympic Games?At the moment I am doing everything I can to get toLondon 2012. I've had a lot of injuries over the pastfew years. I have only been training full-time for fivemonths after only being able to do swimming fornearly four months. I just need to train injury free forat least 12 months to be at the top of my game. So, for now, everything is going to plan! How would you feel about competing in suchiconic surroundings as London's Hyde Park?I haven't raced in London, but I actually love to racein places I haven't been to yet, so I'm excited! How difficult will it be to stop the Brownleebrothers dominating at the 2012 Olympic Games?To stop them will be virtually impossible, but it's anOlympic Games, not your normal race, and I'm sureyou will see some unexpected people running for the podium. How do you communicate with fans, friends andfamily? Do you use social media?I'm not a big fan of micro-blogging. People are selling their whole life nowadays; they won't eat ordrink something before putting a picture on there. I use social networks now and then to stay up to date and that's it. What motivates you?I want success, that's what drives me. My mother gaveher whole life to her kids and now she has nothing, so I want to give her something back. She is alwayshappy -her family is what gives her life meaning.prepared the best I can. I want to go into the raceconfidently and perform to the best of my ability. I also hope to have a lot of fun in the processbecause, at the end of the day, everyone is there towin and not everyone can. It is important that we all take something positive from the experience,regardless of whether we win the gold medal or not. What excites you most about the chance tocompete at the Olympic Games in London?In primary school, when the Olympic Games wereon, we had whole weeks dedicated to beingimmersed in everything Olympic. We learnt thehistory of the Olympic Games and we were taughtthat they are a way of unifying the world and puttingpeople from every walk of life on an equal platform,to be compared by nothing other than sportingability. I am excited to become a part of this historyand being able to contribute to something thatmakes our world stronger. Also, to be in the companyof the greatest athletes from all over the world willbe an honour.Who were your Olympic heroes when you were younger?New Zealand athletes Sarah Ulmer (cycling) and theEvers-Swindell twins (rowing). Although neithercompeted in sports that I loved, they were still greatrole models and amazing women.How do you communicate with fans, friends andfamily? Do you use social media?Social networks are my main way of communicatingwith friends. When I am away I call my family on thecomputer. I do have a blog but I am not very good atupdating it. I am investigating getting a website too.62OLYMPIC REVIEWOLYMPIC SOLIDARITYHow did you first get into triathlon?I was quite good at swimming back in primaryschool, but during winter there was no swimming so Istarted doing cycling races when I got to high school.I'd done athletics all my life, so I just put it alltogether in 2007. I started with some youth racesand it just went from there. How has the Olympic Solidarity programme helpedyou get where you are today?It makes a huge difference. The support I got fromOlympic Solidarity for the 2010 Youth Olympic Gamesmade all the difference. I had no funding to get myselfrace-ready, for training or equipment, but they camein and gave me tremendous support. What is a typical training week for you at the moment?Anything from 15-20 hours per week, with a lot of highintensity sessions. I can't cope with doing long, slowstuff, so I do what I need to and that's it, nothing more. How much support do you feel you get from yourcountry and compatriots?My country has been doing a lot for me lately,full-time and has a lot of content and class time so Ido find it quite hard. I try to keep a good routine anduse all my spare time wisely - which doesn't alwayswork! This year my studies seem to have been thelower priority and I have had to miss some classesdue to training and racing. However, right now I amin the lead-up to my end-of-year exams, so traininghas to move a little further down the priority list.What are your targets for 2012 in London?Now that New Zealand and Australia have qualified, I have to make the Oceania Continental spot inFebruary, but as the Cook Islands was the only otherOceania country at the World Championships, Ishould earn the spot. After my exams in October, I will be taking a year off university to train full-time.All I can ask of myself is to do my best. I want tohave a really good build-up and feel like I haveINTERVIEWABRAHMLOUWAFTER FINISHING FIFTH AT THE INAUGURAL YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES IN SINGAPORE, NAMIBIA'S AFRICAN U23TRIATHLON CHAMPION IS HOPING TO ENJOY ANOTHER OLYMPIC EXPERIENCE IN LONDON IN 2012