Belfast Telegraph

Holly Nixon dreams of Tokyo after striking gold

By Graham Luney

Enniskillen rower Holly Nixon is now dreaming of Olympic success in Tokyo after clinching her first gold medal at a major championship.

The 22-year-old helped Britain clinch fours gold at the World Championships in Rotterdam.

Nixon and her British team-mates Fiona Gammond, Donna Etiebet and Holly Norton finished ahead of the defending champions, the USA, with Germany taking bronze.

After becoming Fermanagh's first ever senior World Championship gold medal winner, Nixon hopes it's the start of a very special sporting chapter. "The Olympics in Tokyo is definitely a dream," said Nixon whose dreams of being a top international rower were fuelled at Portora Boat Club.

"Some people will think that with the Rio Olympics finishing that is the end of the cycle but it is the start for me and fingers crossed and we'll see what happens - you never know.

"I've got all three colours now. I've had a silver and bronze but the gold is definitely the ultimate aim and it's great to get that.

"We won by a big margin which was quite a surprise. We weren't expecting that at all as we knew it would be a tough race. It was a pleasant surprise.

"We knew we had performed well in the heats but in the final you don't know what can be thrown at you. We held our own and thankfully crossed the line first in style.

"The Americans are so strong in the women's races so it was really special to get the British flag up there instead of the Americans."

USA won this title last year and led at the 500m marker by 0.62 of a second but the GB crew dug deep and won by a huge five seconds.

Nixon's medal adds to an impressive collection which already includes a World Junior sculls silver medal while rowing for Ireland in 2011 and a World U-23 bronze medal with the GB women's eight in 2015.

Ireland's Paul O'Donovan also secured a gold medal in Rotterdam. The 22-year-old Skibbereen man won the lightweight single sculls final in 7:32:84.

"The first stroke was bad, but then the second one was good so I went from there," O'Donovan said. "At the 500m left I remembered I told my friends when I was in Rio that I would win here by open water, so I thought I should probably keep my promise. Then at 200m to go I guess I started smiling a little."

Coleraine's Joel Cassells and GB team-mate Sam Scrimgeour were third in the lightweight pairs, won by France.

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