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Featherweight still striving for Tokyo

Despite the Coronavirus hampening her qualification for the Olympic Games and the event itself, Gold Coast boxer Skye Nicolson is determined to compete in the featherweight category in 2021.

At just 24-years of age, the boxer already has a bronze medal from the World Championships and a gold medal from the Commonwealth Games under her belt. Her next goal is the Olympics. 

To get there, the boxer’s first challenge was making it through the Asia and Oceania qualifying event. She recounts; ‘The lead up to qualifiers was a massive preparation. I went straight from a 10-week training camp into our national qualifiers to a 15 week camp into the Olympic qualifiers.’

To make the qualifying more challenging, the event which was originally scheduled from February 3rd-14th in Wuhan, China had to be moved due to COVID-19 concerns. The competition was postponed for four weeks to March 3rd-11th in Amman, Jordan. Nicolson says this made; ‘the prep extremely long’ and she ‘trained 3 sessions per day, 6 days a week nonstop from September 2019 up until the qualifiers in March.’

These sessions were incredibly demanding, the boxer recounts; ‘Training sessions consisted of conditioning (cardio sessions- track work, road runs, bike & rower sets, etc) strength & explosive sessions and of course my boxing specific training sessions consisting of technical and tactical correction and sparring and partner work.’

Her immense training paid off, as Nicolson nailed it at the qualifying rounds, securing her ticket to Tokyo. It would be her first Olympic games, an enormous milestone in any athlete’s career.

‘The Olympics has always been my dream and end goal in boxing, so to finally qualify for the biggest stage in the world was just the most surreal feeling,’ the athlete says.

‘It took days to sink in that it was real.’

When Nicolson arrived home, she was ready to continue training for the Olympics, until concerns for the virus intensified on an international scale. Soon after, the International Olympic Committee confirmed that the games would be pushed forward to July 2021.

‘Obviously, everything is all a bit crazy right now with this coronavirus crisis taking over the world,’ Nicholson tells. Yet she also acknowledges her privilege and explains how she has ‘some downtime with my family and still doing light, general training in my home gym’ after all the preparation for qualifiers.

The change has mostly given athletes a sense of uncertainty, as their once clear-cut path to the Olympics has now become ambiguous. In the meantime, Nicolson is waiting to hear from Boxing Australia about; ‘what will happen next and what our plans will be for camps and competition in the lead up to Tokyo Olympics after restrictions are lifted and life goes back to normal.’  

Nicolson’s career leading up to this point hasn’t always been so intense. She started boxing at the age of 12, and the sport came naturally to her. She reflects; ‘I improved and progressed through the stages of the sport from grassroots participation all the way through to elite level.’ Her approach to the sport was that she; ‘just took each stage as it came and had fun doing a sport I loved.’

When she finished high school, she began to take the sport more seriously.

‘There wasn’t a particular moment that made me think “yep this is all I want to do” or “boxing will be my career” but as I took boxing more seriously and found myself landing big opportunities everything fell into place quite naturally,’ the boxer recalls.

Nicolson’s success in her career is representative of the changing power dynamics in boxing, which is more accepting of women as fierce and equal competitors. Historically, women’s boxing has been outlawed as it was considered vulgar for women to participate in violence and it perceived to only be done to appease crowds of men. Women weren’t considered athletes who wanted to compete and develop this skill for the love of the sport. Nicolson’s story shows the lengths that women in boxing have come to change the status quo of the sport.

‘I feel like I’ve really grown with women’s boxing. During my time in the sport, women’s boxing has been included into the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and other major international events that were never an option for women in the past.’

‘We are slowly bridging the gap with 2 added weight divisions being included in the next Olympics. It’s been amazing to witness the growth and development of women’s boxing,’ the boxer states.

She also has a message for the girls who want to enter the sport;  ‘Girls who want to start competing in boxing, don’t hold back! You won’t regret it.’

‘The sky is the limit for you and this awesome sport will give you opportunities, valuable life lessons, and an amazing supportive community to develop and grow with that you couldn’t find anywhere else.’

Story: Gabrielle Egan – WSA Digital Media
Lead Image:
Pacific Illustrated

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