Name: Nikita Mawhirt
What is your dream?
My ultimate dream is to represent Australia in Modern Pentathlon at the Olympic Games. Ever since I started competing in swimming and horse-riding events when I was five, I’ve looked forward to the day that I could finally wear the green and gold at the biggest sporting event in the world. I know it will take extreme hard work, dedication, commitment, passion and the the will to win, but I know one day I can make the dream a reality. I know that preparing for the Olympic Games is a long process: I will have to stay injury-free, dedicate myself completely, learn to deal with setbacks and losses, while still retaining my integrity as an athlete.
Tell us a bit about you.
I’ve always been an active child, and growing up, I can’t think of a sport I didn’t try. Soccer, tennis, basketball, dancing, gymnastics, the list goes on. Some people turn to art or reading as a place where they can be themselves and express who they are; I turn to sport as something that I know will always allow me to be myself. It allows raw emotion, and shows who I really am as an individual; helps get my mind off something or release stress. The feeling of pushing off the wall underwater in the pool and just gliding is a moment that I cherish. I started Modern Pentathlon in 2014: Feeling undecided about which sport I wanted to go to the Olympics for, I decided to combine my swimming and horse riding and just add 3 more. In my time doing the sport, I’ve had the honour of representing both WA and Australia.
How have you demonstrated commitment?
Training for five sports while still in high school takes organisation and dedication to maintain training and school grades. I have a fortnightly timetable for my training, and I also plan my competition schedule at the beginning of each year. My passion for my sport makes it easy to be dedicated to me training, and I also apply for my own grants, funding and sponsorship opportunities. In 2014, I ran my own GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for my trip to China after being selected to represent Australia in Modern Pentathlon. I did the same in 2016 to raise the funds to compete in the Modern Pentathlon Youth A and Junior World Championships in 2017.
What challenges do you face?
A major challenge I face is the expense involved in travelling to compete in Modern Pentathlon, as well as training in WA, as I am required to be a part of 5 separate sporting clubs. As there is no infrastructure in WA and few opportunities in Australia to compete at a high level, travelling overseas is vital for my development as an athlete. Even competitions in Australia are based in the East of the country, so I have to travel numerous times throughout the year to compete. My parents separated when I was two, meaning mum supports my brother and I by herself, and after facing other financial hardships we are still struggling with many financial challenges today.
How will you use the money?
I was recently selected in the development squad for the Youth Olympic Games in 2018. As part of this development squad, we are attending a three-week training camp in Hungary in 2017. Leading on from this camp, we travel to Prague to compete at the 2017 World Youth ‘A’ Championships and then the Junior World Championships in Budapest. Having the opportunity to train alongside some of the best Modern Pentathletes in the world, as well as competing against international athletes in my age group will be an unforgettable experience and a vital stepping stone to furthering my sporting journey. The scholarship grant money will be used for accommodation, competition entry fees, insurance and living expenses for this trip. The grant will also allow me to purchase new competition gear prior to leaving for Europe, such as a new FIE fencing mask, new running shoes and a shooting headband and eye piece.
How do you plan to give back?
I’ve always had a strong passion for encouraging sport in the community and especially younger children, and I’m a strong advocate for healthy living. I love giving back to my sporting clubs and associations, whether it’s helping coach younger classes or volunteering to referee a competition, knowing I’ve made a difference and made someone’s day that little bit easier is something I love. I’m on the junior committee for Modern Pentathlon WA and often bring ideas forward about how to get more people involved and interested in the unique sport. Once I eventually retire from my sport, I would love to come back as a coach and hopefully one day set up a Modern Pentathlon training institute in Australia.