‘Me achieving success and then other people seeing that they want to have that success in their lives is really nice to see.’
It’s been almost a month and half since Nicole Turner claimed a silver medal at the Paralympic Games, and while things are starting to calm down, she is now realising that she has had a long-term effect on people.
Turner finished second behind China’s Jiang Yuyan in the women’s 50m butterfly S6 to win a silver medal for Ireland, having missed out on a medal by half a second five years previous in Rio.
Celebrations in Tokyo were muted, on account of the strict measures athletes had to follow in light of the pandemic, but on her return to Ireland she more than had her fill.
Turner was speaking as an EBS ambassador for this year’s Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards and revealed that her homecoming was a proper midlands extravaganza.
“It’s starting to settle down now thankfully but I’d say the first two or three weeks being home was just non-stop crazy,” Turner started.
“It was actually nice. We actually flew home at about 10 o’clock at night so it was kind of nice that no one could have me that night. I could just go home and sleep.
“But the day after two local businessmen organised a big massive parade through the town and brought me home on an open top American-style bus. So it was lovely to see. Even though it was pouring rain, the amount of people I saw and the smiles on their faces put such a smile on my face. It was lovely.”
Paralympic Silver medalist, Nicole Turner and volunteer, Eimear Mathews launch the final call for nominations;https://t.co/IzS6F2vDCv
— Irish Sport (@iresport) October 13, 2021
‘I want to be like Nicole one day.’
Turner remembers one supporter in particular at her homecoming, as the effect her success has had on other people was made clear before she was sent off on her open top bus for the parade through town.
“A stand out moment for me was when the local community gave me a homecoming and I was in Portarlington Rugby Club. There were teams gathering there before they sent me off on my bus,” Turner said.
“There was a little boy there called Eddie and Eddie was in a wheelchair – he couldn’t use his legs and he couldn’t walk. My mam brought me over to him because there were crowds of people but he was in his wheelchair there.
“But I went over to him and showed him my medal and as I was walking away he turned to his mam and said, ‘I want to be like Nicole one day.’ So just little things like that, me achieving success and then other people seeing that they want to have that success in their lives is really nice to see.”
Nicole Turner on her friendly rivalry with Ellie Robinson.
Ever since making her senior debut for Ireland, Turner has had a fierce rivalry with Great Britain’s Ellie Robinson, although the two are great friends outside of the swimming pool.
Robinson has gotten the upper hand on Turner on most occasions, with her gold medal triumph in the women’s 50m butterfly S6 the most notable of her achievements.
Turner finally got the upper hand on her friend this year however, something which she admits she has aimed to achieve for a long time.
“In the pool we badly want to beat each other but outside of the pool we’ll be all smiles and laughs together. Ellie got gold in Rio and as the years went on… me and Ellie started on the international stage at the same time,” Turner explained.
“So we went to Rio together and she beat me then. At the Europeans in 2018 she got gold and I got silver. At the Worlds in 2019 she got silver and I got bronze. So I think as time went on I just wanted to beat her even more.
“Then Tokyo was the place where I beat her and I got silver and she actually came into Tokyo with a bit of a hip injury. So she just wanted to give it everything and whatever happened she was delighted to even be there.
“I got presented with a photo from Offaly sports partnership at the weekend and it’s a photo of the both of us in the pool and I’m just about a head ahead of her. Just even seeing that and all the years that I wanted to beat her and then when I did it, it was a nice feeling.”
Nicole Turner is back training with Paris in mind.
Turner has just recently returned to training after a brief break from the sport following her triumph at the Paralympics, having largely focused on her college course in sports management since her return from Tokyo.
The 2024 Games in Paris are still a while away yet, and Turner has several major competitions to train for before then, although she admits that she is ultimately working towards the next Paralympics.
“I went back training literally last Wednesday. I did three days last week and I’m doing three days this week. It wasn’t very nice at all,” Turner admitted.
“But I suppose if I didn’t go back then I’d never go back. The longer a break I had the harder I think it would have been to get back into the pool.”