Paralympic silver medallist Nicole Turner admits prioritising sport over education was a risky move that paid off.
The Portarlington swimmer claimed silver at the Tokyo games in the 50m Butterfly event, setting a new PB in the process.
Turner, 19, said it was joy initially but also relief after agonising over the decision to quit school and forsake the Leaving Cert.
She’s since enrolled in a college course and is studying Sport Management.
Speaking at the final call for nominations for the 2021 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport awards, EBS ambassador Turner said: “Giving up school, it was a risk. There are people out there who would prioritise education over sport. That’s completely acceptable and you can see why they do it but for me I was always a sporty person, rather than getting all A’s in my tests in school.
“It was also physically impossible for me to study for my Leaving Cert and to train for the Paralympic Games. I had to pick between one and the other and I was going to pick the Paralympic Games over school any day.
“School is vitally important, and education, which is why I’ve gone back to it now, but I think for everyone it was just a massive relief getting that medal. It was a relief because the medal does show that the risk did pay off.”
If Turner needed further validation that she was right to prioritise her passion, she got it during one encounter at her homecoming celebrations.
She explained: “A moment that stands out for me was meeting a little boy called Eddie in Portarlington Rugby Club. Eddie was in a wheelchair, he couldn’t move his legs and couldn’t walk. His Mam brought him over to me and said: ‘He just wants to see your medal’.
“He was only seven or eight and was a bit shy but as I walked away he said, ‘Mam, I want to be like Nicole now’. That’s another reason why I do it.”
To nominate an everyday hero, and to be in with a chance of winning €1,000 for your sports club, visit www.volunteersinsport.ie. The closing date for receipt of nominations is October 17.