Nicole Turner's dreams of representing Ireland at the 2014 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro moved a step closer last week, after she won three medals at the IPC European Championships in Funchal, Portugal.
The Portarlington girl was in stellar form, winning silver medals in the 200m Individual Medley and 100m Breast Stroke, along with a bronze in the 50m Butterfly.
Speaking yesterday morning, the first year student at Colaiste Íosagáin was still on cloud nine. “Before I went I knew I might have a chance at winning a medal, but to come back with three is amazing.”
Turner, who is 13, will now set her sights on inclusion in the Irish squad for the Paralympics in Rio later this year. She will have to be 14 in order to travel with the squad, but with her birthday looming on June 14, she should meet all the requirements necessary, and would head to Brazil with a real chance of a medal.
All of her success is just reward for Nicole, who trains eight times in six days from Monday to Saturday, with Sunday her only day off. She alternates her time between 6am morning sessions in Portlaoise Leisure Centre, to swimming in the National Aquatic Centre as well as Strength and Conditioning work back in Portlaoise.
Having started out with Portarlington Piranhas, Nicole moved to Portlaoise Marlins swimming club a few years ago to take advantage of more swimming hours, and her mother Bernie Turner credits the club, and in particular coach Padraig Dolan, with her continued success. “When Nicole moved to Laois Marlins Padraig Dolan told me 'this is the start of something big for the club', and Nicole loves training in Portlaoise, and she has a great rapport with Padraig.”
Nicole enjoyed Monday evening off from training, but she was back in the pool at 6am this morning as she chases down her dream of representing Ireland at Rio, as Bernie explains. “She will be back in the pool at 6am tomorrow (Tuesday) because she really wants to go to Rio. She really wants to win a medal, she doesn't care what event it is in, she just wants to win a medal so she can stand on the podium and see the tricolour raised.”
Her schedule is set to be as busy as ever now, and there is a homecoming taking place this Friday night at 9pm in Judge Roy Beans restaurant in The Heritage, Killenard. The day before her birthday, June 13, will see her travel to Fuertaventura in Portugal for a training camp, and she will then wait with baited breath on July 5th, when the Irish squad for the Paralympics will be announced.