The story of Holly Nicolas will forever be an inspiration to a lot of people across the world. It is a story of determination and belief as well as the power of sport.
Specifically through table tennis, the 16-year-old year 11 student of Mindarie Senior College in Perth is not bothered by her ailment but determined to fight through and become one of the best players in the world.
The Australian national junior champion is at present battling cystic fibrosis, which is a genetic condition that affects her lung capacity, sometimes to the point where it is difficult for her to breathe very well.
However undaunted by this challenge, Holly Nicolas was in fine form when he led the Aussie girls to beat Nigeria 3-2 in the classification match at the ITTF World Junior Championships. “I don’t believe that my sickness can stop me from playing table tennis because it has helped to improve my health and give me hope that I can become one of the best in the sport. Although I visit hospital four times a year while each visit lasts for two weeks but I still find time like three hours a day to train. For me the sickness will be discouraged me from playing the game rather it will inspire me to aim high in the sport,” she said.
On how she trains while in hospital, she said: “Most times IV line is placed on my left arm so that I can train with my right, while my medication is work around training regime. This will allows me to leave hospital, train and then head back to hospital for my next round of medication. This I usually do whenever I am in the hospital so that I can keep pace with my training schedule.”
The Oceania U18 singles champion said she left hospital a month ago to be able to be part of the team to South Africa, while also acknowledging the enormous support she has been getting from her parents.
“My parents and school have been very supportive because my parents are always there with me in the hospital and they also make sure I keep up with the training. Also my school allows me to travel for major competitions and make arrangement for me to keep up with the school work whenever I get back. This has also been helpful for me as well,” she added.
Holly Nicolas who is making her second appearance at the ITTF World Juniors believes coming to South Africa has added to her experience as she has seen top players who are among the best in the world. “I think coming to this tournament has really increased my confidence in the sport and I have also learnt from the top players because this is another opportunity for us to learn new things in the sport. Table tennis is what gives me joy and I love the sport to the extent that it has helped my health,” she explained.
Holly Nicolas’ dream is to represent Australia at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympic Games, and she believes she would continue to pursue her dream despite the health challenge. Ï won’t give up because giving up is like telling yourself that you cannot do it. I will continue to pursue my dream and I want people to know that you can only be limited by yourself and not by the situation you find yourself in life. For me table tennis has ignited my hope that I can continue doing what I love in life without focusing on my challenges,” she said.
She however, said: “I don’t want people to pity me because of my health but to see the gift in me and celebrate it.”