16 April 2020

Postponed Paralympics lets Nikki focus on caring for Canberra

| Tim Gavel
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Nikki Ayers

Nikki Ayers remains in training despite the postponing of the Tokyo Paralympics. Photo: Supplied.

Late last year I wrote about aspiring Paralympic rower Nikki Ayers. At the time she was in the midst of preparations to make a bid to represent Australia at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Plenty of water has passed under the bridge since then. The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively shut down sport. As a consequence, the Paralympics have been postponed until next year.

Nikki had come through crippling injuries suffered while playing rugby union in Canberra before shifting her focus to rowing. The Paralympics were her ultimate goal.

But as a registered nurse in the ICU at Canberra Hospital, Nikki’s sporting aspirations have taken a back seat.

“If that Paralympic dream is put on hold, so be it. This is far more important,” says Nikki.

With several roles at Canberra Hospital, including being on the floor and as a Clinical Care Co-ordinator, Nikki is concentrating on preparing for the possible surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We are preparing for what might be ahead. It’s a very anxious time among staff. We have seen what has been happening in Italy, Spain, the UK and the United States,” says Nikki. “We are waiting for it to hit here. It’s the calm before the storm and we are learning every day from the experiences overseas.”

Nurses and doctors globally have been praised for their selfless approach in attending to those affected by the virus. Nikki, who has been at Canberra Hospital for eight years, can’t speak highly enough about her colleagues and the roles they play in this crisis.

“We have a great team at work, everybody is supportive of each other.”

And Nikki has the mindset that is required in the current situation.

“I have a specialised skill set that the community desperately needs. I’m lucky that I can contribute.”

As for her Paralympic hopes? Nikki remains optimistic of securing a place in the PR3 Mixed Coxed 4 crew for next year’s Games.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy to have the Paralympics postponed rather than cancelled altogether. The goal is still there. The hardest thing is to stay motivated.”

She is doing what she can to keep fit in the absence of being on the water.

“I live in an apartment but I have an indoor rowing machine, weights and I cycle with my partner,” says Nikki.

As she prepares for what’s ahead in her vital front line role as a registered nurse, Nikki’s resilience in overcoming the odds in sport holds her in good stead. It gives her the perspective required to take on her medical duties with skill, enthusiasm and a positive disposition.

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