Proud Nicholas siblings represent Cook Is at Rio Olympics

By Peter White

Add a comment
PROUD OLYMPIANS: Tauranga's Bryden, left, and Ella Nicholas are representing the Cook Islands at the Rio Olympics. PHOTO/Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media Services
PROUD OLYMPIANS: Tauranga's Bryden, left, and Ella Nicholas are representing the Cook Islands at the Rio Olympics. PHOTO/Jamie Troughton Dscribe Media Services

Ella and Bryden Nicholas were not the only brother and sister pairing at the Rio Olympics.
But the kayakers from Tauranga were most likely the only siblings competing who were medical doctors.

Ella was to compete this morning but Bryden's Olympic dream ended yesterday after he placed last in a field of 21.

The pair had taken leave from Tauranga Hospital to chase their Olympic dreams in Rio.

Juggling the long hours as doctors there with a rigorous training schedule was no easy task, but was something they both accepted as part of the deal.

I first made the New Zealand junior team when I was 16 but then changed to the Cook Islands. It could have gone either way as I love both countries and am happy either way.
Ella Nicholas

They were representing Rio under the Cook Islands flag rather than New Zealand, following the proud heritage of their father, Robert. He was also a doctor and in Rio with his wife, Sue Clarke, as part of the Cook Islands management team.

Ella, 25, had the honour of being her country's flag bearer in Saturday's opening ceremony, where the smile on her face never faded throughout the celebratory march through the impressive Maracanã Stadium.

She began canoe slalom at Waimarino on the Wairoa River, aged 13, following her elder brother, Bryden. "Mum and Dad didn't paddle but my elder brother just randomly went to a 'learn to kayak' thing and he loved it," Ella said.

"We watched him and thought it was cool so I started as well. It just went from there."

Ella is at her second Olympics after competing in the women's K1 canoe slalom event in London in 2012.

"I finished 18th. I was pretty young and still had a lot to learn but I was pretty happy with how I did in the end.

"The goal this time round is to improve on that in Rio. I am aiming for top 15 this time."

Ella was proud to be representing the Cook Islands but, like her brother, had also represented New Zealand at junior level.

"I first made the New Zealand junior team when I was 16 but then changed to the Cook Islands. It could have gone either way as I love both countries and am happy either way."

There were just eight athletes behind her, including her brother, when she carried the Cook Islands flag at the opening ceremony on Saturday. The nine-strong team was the largest the Cook Islands had sent to an Olympics.

"I love it. In London there were only eight of us and it has nice community feel. We all know each other and do activities together," Ella said.

For Bryden, it was his first Olympic Games after he took time off from competing to focus on gaining his medical degree.

He was grateful to the orthopaedic department at Tauranga Hospital for giving him two months off to train and attend the Olympics."

The canoe and kayak programme at Rio Olympics finishes later this week.

- Bay of Plenty Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 07 Dec 2016 04:11:21 Processing Time: 642ms