Going for the gold | July 27, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Sports - July 27, 2012

Going for the gold

Local rower Julie Nichols to represent Team USA at the Olympics

by Nicole Doi

One month ago, Pat Nichols had planned to attend the Queen's Jubilee Celebration being presented by the Daughters of the British Empire at the Castlewood Country Club on July 28. She now has much different plans.

On July 28, Pat Nichols will be cheering on her daughter Julie Nichols as she competes in the Women's Lightweight Double Scull rowing competition at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Julie Nichols, who grew up in Livermore, began rowing in 1996 as a member of the UC Berkeley rowing team. Although she was a lightweight rower, she was able to make the varsity rowing team at Cal. Since then she has become a competitive rower making an impact on national and international waters.

For the past nine years, Julie has been a member of the United States national team. This year she won the lightweight double sculls at the 2012 National Selection Regatta, finished fourth in the lightweight double sculls at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup II, and finished sixth in the lightweight double sculls at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup I.

Julie and teammate Kristin Hedstrom from Boston, Mass., secured their place on the Olympic team with their fourth-place finish at the second World Cup held in Lucerne, Switzerland.

"Julie's dad and I were able to cheer Julie on from California by watching the live streaming of the races at 2 or 3 a.m. each day," said Pat Nichols. "Family members in Australia were also watching, so there was a lot of celebrating when Julie and Kristin qualified for the USA Team and we knew that they were going to the Olympics."

Nichols trains with the California Rowing Club in Oakland under Coach Dave O'Neil. In order to prepare for the Olympics, Nichols and Hedstrom have been training more than eight hours a day for the past year.

"Julie and Kristin are excellent partners for each other and have worked very well together to make this the fastest Lightweight Double in the USA. This is the only Lightweight event for women in the Olympics so it is a very competitive field," said Pat Nichols.

From July 28-Aug. 4, the two women will be competing for Gold at London's Eton Dorney, a six-lane 2,000-meter flat-water course.

"Of course, all the athletes going to London want to win a gold medal and they will give it their very best effort. As parents you support and encourage but all the praise goes to the athlete. To be an Olympian requires tremendous dedication, belief and perseverance," said Pat Nichols.

"It has taken four years of overcoming many obstacles and a lot of hard work. Julie has had a lot of help and support from many people and she is always quick to thank and acknowledge them. She realizes that you don't get to the elite level without support. We are so very proud of these two girls."