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Friday, 22 May 2015

Golden girl Nicole’s Down Under delight

TYNEDALE’S next big rowing star ensured she had a birthday to remember as she claimed three medals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Nicole Lamb, of Wall, scooped a gold, silver and bronze at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

Nicole Lamb (20), of Wall, celebrated the end of her teenage years with gold and bronze to add to the silver she had won earlier in the week.

With many competitors at the festival going on to represent their nation at a future Olympics, Nicole looks set to follow in the giant footsteps of Hexham’s Matt Wells who appeared at four Games with the highlight his bronze medal at Beijing 2008.

The former member of Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School Rowing Club just qualified for the U20 festival as her birthday fell on the final day, and she made the most of the opportunity with excellent displays.

Newcastle University Rowing Club, and former Durham School, starlet Nicole had to wait three days, and the penultimate day of action, to get her festival debut underway at the Sydney Regatta Centre.

And all that waiting around clearly gave her itchy feet as Sunday saw her claim pairs silver alongside Anastasia Merlott Chitty.

She wasn’t done there as she returned to the Australian water 24 hours later to win gold in the four and also pick up a bronze in the eight.

The final two medals took place on Nicole’s 20th birthday and she admitted she couldn’t have dreamed of any better way of celebrating it.

She said: “Winning the bronze in the eight was a good result to finish our regatta and it meant I got a medal in each colour.

“We could have made it easier for ourselves, but I love races like that. We did it that’s all that matters.

“The win in the four was amazing and we were all really pumped after that because we had worked so hard and it was a good race.

“And to kick things off with the silver in the pair was a great start for us and it gave us a lot of confidence.

“All in all, I got three medals and it was my birthday that I got to spend in Australia. I couldn’t have asked for a better present.”

Although Nicole was no stranger to pulling on the GB colours, the Australian adventure was the first taste of the Olympic atmosphere.

The Tynedale lass insisted it has well and truly whetted her appetite for the future.

“Being part of AYOF has really been a big deal because there is so much more to it than just your usual rowing competition.

“The opening ceremony, the athlete’s village, the other sports, being part of Team GB – it has all been amazing and has really opened my eyes to the future and the next aim is to do it for real at a senior Olympics.”

Former club QEHS spotted Nicole’s potential almost immediately and she became part of the quad, alongside Steph Charlton, Chloe Glendenning, Katrine Hardy and cox Gemma Mills, which obtained national medals in Year 10.

She then turned her attention to the single scull, and she returned from the British Rowing Championships with a gold medal in the J16 Women's Single Scull event.

In 2010, she achieved her goal when she represented GB in a four and an eight at the Junior European Championships gaining silver and bronze medals.

The following year, she continued to follow her GB aspirations by obtaining a silver medal, again in a four, at the Junior World Championships.

Her success Down Under has not come as a surprise to QEHS rowing coordinator Pauline Higgins who was always confident Nicole had the ability to shine

She said: “On her last visit to share in a QEHS training session, followed by hot chocolate and mince pies on Christmas Eve, Nicole was sharing her excitement at the prospect of her trip to Australia.

“When I asked her to bring back three medals, I thought it was a big ask but I should have known that Nicole is always up for a challenge!

“We are extremely proud of Nicole and her achievements are closely followed by the members of the club as she has always remained a member of QEHS.

“Will there be another QEHS rower in Rio 2016? I certainly hope so.”

The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games.

It works in partnership with sport National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values.