MONDAY MEET THE ROWER : NIKOLAI OLDING
• LTA Rower
• Joined 2013
I was born very early – at 24 weeks and spent six months in intensive care with
several operations and chronic lung disease. I went home with supplementary
oxygen (which I used for a year) and over the next 18 years of all sorts of remedial
treatments, was told by several doctors and specialists that I probably would not
be able to walk/talk/write/be a sportsman or hear. I’m glad to report that I have
proved most of these people wrong, though I have been diagnosed with mild
ataxic cerebral palsy, am certainly hearing impaired and have a learning disorder
with some expressive speech problems.
However, I can walk (took me a lot of years to learn how to) though I still look a
bit funny trying to run. I can talk and be understood (though sometimes it’s hard
to express what’s in my brain).My breathing is now within normal limits (when I
was little I sounded like a cappuccino machine). I can write really well after many
years of practice but need to have rests as my fingers lose power when I grip a
pencil too long. And yes, I have to wear hearing aids (I have pontoons on my boat
so I am unlikely to fall in) but that’s no big deal. My right side is weaker than my
left so I have to be very careful rowing or I find myself in the next lane and both
my legs are a bit weak so it is hard for me to push properly.
Mum wanted to find a sport for me – she was a good runner when she was young
and dad is a black belt in aikido. I could never understand why she wanted this
and why anyone would ever need to compete – in fact that is still a problem for
me – I am not very competitive and like to do things just for the joy of doing it.
Mum saw a learn to row ad at Leichhardt Rowing Club and thought I should try it.
For the first time in my life something came easily to me. I liked the rhythm of the
oar strokes and the quietness of the water.
Various clubs were asked if they could take a new adaptive rower and Balmain
came straight back with a yes. So I’ve been very lucky to be training with Barbara
and Anne since I started. Also fortunate to be in a double with Alex, our newest rower –
and to have rowed with state, national and world champion Jeremy. Rowing is pretty special for me as I love being
out on the water even when there are people there telling me what to do. I love
being able to do something well and I am especially proud of all my new muscles
even though there are a few shirts I will not fit into soon.
Rowing has made such a difference to my life – it has given me focus and
direction and has made me proud of my achievements. I have wonderful coaches
and a great trainer – Ben Ly – who yells at me with encouragement three times
a week but I am slowly seeing good results so am very happy even though my
week is full and I need lots of rest. I look forward to being the best rower I can
in the future.