Despite her youth, 15-year-old Nicole Turner is one of Ireland’s main medal contenders ahead of the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships in Dublin, which start in exactly six months’ time, on 13 August.
“I'm really excited, training is going really well and I'm training really hard,” said Turner. “I've several competitions between now and then. I'm hoping to get a warm weather training camp in before August to ensure I am in the best possible shape.”
Dublin 2018 will be Turner’s second time competing at a Europeans after claiming two silvers in the women’s 200m individual medley SM6 and 100m breaststroke SB6, and bronze in the 50m butterfly S6, at Funchal 2016.
But she knows this year’s competition will be special.
“It will be Ireland's first major Paralympic event. It will be amazing and an absolute honour to represent my country at this level in the fantastic facility of the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin which I can proudly call my home training pool.”
Turner knows she is very young and has much to learn before becoming a swimmer-to-beat on the international scene, and prefers not to have any expectations of medal count.
“Although it would be nice to medal in front of a home crowd,” she said. “At the moment I compete in six events and do not have a specific specialty. I think going forward we will have to narrow down these events and make a decision on which swims to totally focus on.”
Before going to Dublin, Turner plans to compete at “a couple of World Series event of which are yet to be confirmed.”
The Irish teenage talent competed at her maiden Paralympic Games in Rio, in 2016, achieving a fifth place in the 50m butterfly S6. She also has one World Championships under her belt. With such experience, Turner is hoping to make another leap forward at the 2019 Worlds and 2020 Paralympics.
“My priority at the moment is the Europeans and that is my main focus. Once completing them, I can then turn my attention to the Worlds in Malaysia, which will be good preparation for Tokyo,” she said.
“At the age of only 14 years old, I was Ireland's youngest athlete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It was a fantastic experience and one I will never forget. I will be 18 years old at Tokyo 2020 and a much more experienced and matured athlete. Therefore, I hope to make the podium. This is my dream.”
More information about Dublin 2018 is available on the official website.