With the Olympics under way, one sportswoman hoping to do well is Ella Nicholas, representing the Cook Islands in the Women’s Kayak (K1) canoe slalom competition.
Canoe slalom demands both physical and mental strength. The aim is to race through a series of gates made up of red and green poles, while battling white water rapids. The coloured poles determine which direction the competitor must pass through and, penalties are awarded for touching or missing a gate.
The 21 year old, who was born and raised in New Zealand, started paddling at a young age. She competed in secondary school nationals and progressed into the New Zealand National slalom competition, where she took out a number of age group trophies. In 2007, Ella decided to represent the Cook Islands, a decision that has taken her around the world and lifted the profile of the small island nation overseas.
Ella, a medical student at the University of Otago, qualified for the Olympics earlier this year after finishing third at the New Zealand Open. She’s taken a year off from studies to concentrate on her build up to the Olympics, which has included racing at top class international venues against some of the world’s best slalom athletes.
Ella is one of eight athletes representing the Cook Islands, the biggest contingent the nation has ever sent. Representatives include:
Helena Williams – Sailing
Joshua Utanga – Canoe Sprint
Patrick Tuara – Athletics
Patricia Taea – Athletics
Luisa Peters – Weightlifting
Zachary Payne – Swimming
Celeste Brown – Swimming
To show your support and to find out more about Ella’s build up to the Olympics, visit her site www.ellanicholas.com
Islandher wishes Ella and team Cook Islands all the best in London.
By Helen Ulu