Boxer Skye Nicolson qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Official Siren Collaborator Mary Konstantopoulos spoke to her about the very long wait to compete.
It’s been a long wait for Skye Nicolson.
After securing her quota at the Asian Qualification Tournament in Amman Jordan in February 2020, earlier this month it was announced that Nicolson will be one of the six boxers to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics.
Nicolson will contest the women’s feather class and will be making her Olympic debut in Tokyo.
Despite the uncertainty of the last year, for Nicolson the eventual postponement of the Olympic Games was a relief.
“I came back from the Olympic qualifiers in Jordan pretty excited because I had qualified for my first Olympic Games,” said Nicolson. “But then there was this big, dark cloud over everything. It was a bit of a buzzkill because people kept questioning me on whether the Olympics would actually go ahead.
“It was so hard, because I had finally qualified but then there were so many questions as to whether the Games would even happen.”
When the postponement occurred, it meant that Nicolson could refocus herself and recognise that even though she had to wait another year, it was just that, another year.
“What’s one more year when you have been training for this moment your entire life,” said Nicolson.
“For me, I decided that I would take the year to make sure that I came back fitter, faster and stronger than I would have been in July 2020.
“It has been all about preparing so I can bring my absolute best when I compete in July.”
The postponement also gave Nicolson the opportunity to try something different. Given the amount of spare time that she had, Nicolson had an opportunity to think about whether there was anything else she was interested in. After some thought, Nicolson decided that she wanted to start coaching boxing with young people.
“I absolutely loved it,” said Nicolson. “I really loved working with kids and young women in particular. I felt like I got a lot out of it.”
Nicolson enjoyed working with young people so much that it also prompted her to enrol back into primary education at Griffith University.
“The kids had a really big impact on me,” said Nicolson.
“I just loved seeing how much they could soak up and learn. Kids are like knowledge sponges and it was so awesome to see them develop over the weeks and months and see how their confidence developed.
“I loved playing a small role in their lives and helping to make an impact.”
For Nicolson, one of the challenges throughout her career has been the commentary that she has heard about why women shouldn’t box. Boxing is often considered to be an aggressive sport, particularly for women and one that women should not participate in. But for Nicolson, boxing is a sport that has helped build her confidence.
“Without boxing, I don’t know where I would be or the type of person that I would be. I feel like I would be angry and frustrated all the time,” said Nicolson.
“Boxing just makes me feel so happy. It releases endorphins and I feel so happy after a good session.
“In terms of women and whether they should or shouldn’t box—don’t kick it until you try it. Women can do anything that men can do and sometimes they can do it better.”
Looking ahead to Tokyo, the preparation for Nicolson and all the athletes competing looks a little bit different to what you would expect.
“I’ve had my first dose of the vaccination and will continue my training on the Gold Coast for the next couple of weeks,” said Nicolson.
“Our national board is currently looking at what the best options for us are because we want the best preparation whilst being as safe as possible.
“They are exploring a few different options with international training camps and seeing what other teams have planned. We are still hopeful to get into a multi-nations training camp for those last few weeks before we go in to Tokyo.”
One of the challenges of this Olympic Games is the lack of spectators. For Nicolson this will mean that her family will be unable to attend, but given that she competes internationally so much, she’s used to it.
“I have the proudest family in the world,” said Nicolson.
“It can be embarrassing at times but mum and dad love boasting about me, they will drop my name into every conversation they have with every person they meet.
“I love making them proud so I hope I can make them even more proud on the big stage in July.”