Interview: Nicole Begg (New-Zealand)
Hello Nicole, when did you start skating?
I started skating on roller skates when I was about two and a half years old and inline's when I was about six.
Was skating your first sport?
Yes. I did other sports growing up as well, but skating was always the main sport.
Did you try other practices than speed-skating?
I did artistic skating for a few years when I was younger and also inline hockey.
When did your start competition?
I started racing when I was about five on quad skates.
Your mother was skating, your father, your brother… skating is a family affair... I imagine that the background of your parents a real advantage?
I think overall it's been an advantage, but it has also had a few disadvantages. Growing up people just expect that your going to be good because of your surname.
Did you reach all your skating goals?
Growing up, I wanted to be a World Champion and that was my biggest goal. In 2006 at 19 years of age, I achieved that and won the 10km points elimination race. I wouldn't say I've reached all my goals otherwise I would be hanging my skates up, I would still like to add a few more medals to the list. Last year, I was told by doctors that I may never be able to race at the highest level again so now that my body has healed I feel like I've been given a second life.
Who are your main opponents?
There are a lot of people I would class as opponents and a lot of young skaters making their mark. I don't think you can ever underestimate anyone. Sometimes you get to the World Championships and you haven't actually raced with some of your opponents for a whole year so you don't know what to expect.
You had several health problems in your career, how do you feel now?
I've had a couple of bad injuries from crashes. I broke my jaw a few years back and the next year I tore the ligaments in my ankle. At the World Championships in 2011 I had difficulties breathing and it was a real mystery. It took over a year for the doctors to diagnose the problem. The diagnosis was damage to my phrenic nerve (phrenic palsy) which was caused by a virus. The phrenic nerve is important for breathing, it passes motor information to the diaphragm and receives sensory information from it. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it happening or nothing I could have really done to make it better once the damage was done. It was just a waiting game to see if the nerve would regenerate and hoping that it would.
What are your objectives for 2013?
First objective is to get fit again. For a year and three months I wasn't able to train so just taking it a step at a time at the moment. I have nominated for the World Championships and in April I'm planning to race in Namwon, Korea. That will be a good test in April to see where I'm really at and what I need to work on.
I heard you opened a skate shop in New-Zeland. Is it working?
We had a growing skating club, but no where for the members to purchase equipment from so a couple of years ago we opened a store front in our city. We started off also selling scooters, skateboards and wave boards along with skates. There was too much competition in our region with the other products so now we are just selling skates, but without a shop front.
How do you see your professional future?
Right now I feel like I've been given a second skating life. Where that will take me I'm not quite sure at this moment because I have only just started training again. After April I may be able to have a clearer answer to that question.
Can you tell us a few words about roller-skating in New-Zealand?
New Zealand is a small country and overall we don't have big numbers involved when it comes to skating, but we have a lot of passion.
About the naked pictures: did it help to promote roller-skating and your image? Did you have good feedbacks?
99% of the feedback was positive and it got a lot of positive media coverage in New Zealand. Skating doesn't get a lot of media coverage in New Zealand, apart from a few regions so for skating to suddenly be over the TV, radio, magazines and newspapers was great. I definitely don't regret doing it and people haven't forgotten about it. Six years on and people still ask me about it so it's stuck and I feel it's worked.
Photos: Bont, rollerenligne.com, all rights reserved