Silver medal for Nikki Paterson on International debut

Silver medal for Nikki Paterson on International debut

Nikki Paterson, an injured ex-servicewoman, who is supported by Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme, won a Silver medal at the Paracanoe World Championship on her international debut, which took place in Milan last week (Wed 19th August).

(C) Theo Cohen Help For Heroes Nikki Paterson 4

©Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes

The World Championships, held 19-23 August in Italy, provided the first opportunity for athletes to earn spots for their country toward Rio 2016, where the sport will make its Paralympic debut. 

Nikki crossed the finish line in 54.521, just 1.498 seconds behind Great Britain team mate Emma Wiggs, who was crowned champion in the KL2 200m final - both will now vie for one place at next year's Rio Games, at which canoeing will make its Paralympic debut. Australia’s Susan Seipel took the bronze with a time of 55.616.

Nikki took to the water for her Heat earlier in the day and won in a time of 53.361 to finish overall fastest qualifier, taking her through to the A Final later in the afternoon.

After the final Nikki said: “Now everything has settled a little bit after yesterday, I want to thank everyone for all of the amazing support we have had. You have all helped massively in the last 18 months and can all take a little piece of this world silver as your own.”

"To come away with a gold and silver is unbelievable. Me and Emma work well as a team and we're treating this as a partnership to push us both forward."

Former Craftsman, Nikki Paterson (from Radcliffe on Trent, Nottinghamshire) has only been canoeing for 18 months after attending a talent ID day through Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery programme which led to her joining the British Paracanoeing programme when she began producing talent times.

Nikki served nine years with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), and was injured in 2010 in a road traffic accident which subsequently led to the amputation of her right leg.

“Realising my right leg was never going to work again was a huge blow. I’d gone from being really fit to not being able to stand-up.” Nikki decided to put all her energy into fighting the devastation her accident caused. She started her battle at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre, Headley Court. 

“I couldn’t weight-bear through either of my legs for a long time so the swimming pool Help for Heroes funded at Headley Court played a huge part in my recovery.

“Later, I went to an adaptive sports event and realised that the activities on offer through Help for Heroes Sports Recovery could change my life.

(C) Theo Cohen Help For Heroes Nikki Paterson 2

©Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes

Since then Nikki has benefitted from attending winter sport training camps, climbing excursions, water skiing training, as well as from vocational training such as the Archery Leader Course and gaining neuro-linguistic programming qualifications.

Gradually, Nikki found herself feeling physically and mentally tougher and realised that she had gained this strength through sport.

“All the activities I did with Help for Heroes Sports Recovery really built up my confidence, which got me to the point where I wanted to see if I could do one sport, at an elite level.”

Nikki wanted to test the waters and had heard of an elite sport transition programme for wounded military; the brainchild of Help for Heroes and the British Paralympic Association. She took the first step and attended a talent ID day, which measured her baseline physical abilities. Nikki was over the moon when her potential in Para-canoe led to an invite to the full transition programme.

In 2014 Nikki’s hard work was rewarded when she was selected as part of British Canoeing’s Para-canoe team.

The support provided to Nikki forms part of the Help for Heroes’ partnership with the British Paralympic Association to introduce military personnel to Paralympic Sport.

Jayne Kavanagh, Performance Pathway Manager at Help for Heroes Sports Recovery said: “Congratulations to Nikki on what was a phenomenal performance in her first international Championships.”

“We are working with a group of people who have been through some of the most extraordinarily tough times, they have known life before that injury so you are managing people who have got such a strong background and a significant trauma.”

“You're seeing people who are developing those resilient skills, and that is why sport is so powerful in that it has psychological and physiological benefits that enable them to cope and manage better. That is what we are trying to do, along with their NGBs, to help them transition effectively and rebuild their life after injury.”

Women’s KL1 200m

1. Emma Wiggs (GBR) 53.023

2. Nicola Paterson (GBR) 54.521

3. Susan Seipel (AUS) 55.616

(C) Theo Cohen Help For Heroes - Nikki Paterson

 ©Theo Cohen/Help for Heroes

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have put on 300 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level.

To find out more about Help for Heroes’ Sports Recovery Programme follow @H4H_SR on Twitter.

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