Nicholls Makes Big Splash Towards Beijing

Canoeing | Published: Wed 12 March 2008

WAIS canoeist Alana Nicholls has taken a giant step in her bid for Olympic selection after finishing ahead of New Zealand rival Erin Taylor to qualify Australia's position in the Women's K1 500m boat for Beijing.

Competing at the Oceania Olympic Qualification Regatta in Penrith, Nicholls knew a strong result would clinch Australia's K1 boat in the 2008 Olympic Games, and after finishing second, three boat lengths ahead of Taylor in fourth, the 21 year old can now concentrate on cementing herself a position in the Olympic team.

"I felt really good throughout the race and it is such a relief qualifying the boat for Australia," said Nicholls.

"It obviously came as a bit of a shock when I was nominated, but at the same time representing Australia at this event was a great honour."

Nicholls' success in canoeing is an amazing story after she only recently made the switch to the sport after being discovered amongst the swells of a surf ski paddle. WAIS head canoeing Coach, Ramon Andersson convinced Nicholls to trade the ocean waves for the river flats, and she now has an opportunity that most could only dream of.

The race heat was won by Australia's leading female paddler Chantal Meek in a time of 1:53.58min but she was not eligible for the K1 having already qualified the K4 500m boat in last year's world championships.

The final canoeing selection trails for the 2008 Beijing Games will take place between 25-28 March, by which time Nicholls will known her fate.