There’s a story about Skye Nicolson being an understudy to a boy in musical theatre when she was a kid that explains why you wouldn’t bet against her in the Olympic quarter-finals of the feather weight boxing.
The Australian, hoping to win our first women’s medal at an Olympics in boxing, said she has never been that thrilled to play second fiddle to anyone. Let alone someone in a lead role of something she has a passion for.
“I got the part of an understudy for Pinocchio and I was just waiting the whole time for him to break his leg so I could step in,” she said. “I was 11.”
After a bye in the opening round and a win over Im Aeji of South Korea on Monday, Nicolson is now just two wins away from the gold-medal bout and faces British boxer Karriss Artingstall in Wednesday night’s quarter-final in Tokyo.
After her first ever Olympic bout, a delighted Nicolson blew kisses to the camera and wished her father a happy birthday.
The 25-year-old Queenslander is following in the footsteps of her late older brother Jamie, who boxed for Australia at the 1992 Olympics.
Nicolson dedicated the Commonwealth Games gold medal she won in 2018 to her late brother Jamie, who died in a car accident before she was born. This time Nicolson said he will be with her as a “guarding angel” but that she will be doing it for herself.
She has also offered insight into why she chose boxing over other sports as a child.
“Being okay has never been enough for me,“ Nicolson said.
“When I was growing up I never really knew what I wanted to do, I changed my mind a lot, I was always trying different sports and things.
“When I found boxing and I was quite competitive and I seem to have a natural talent, it was a big driving force for me.”
Nicolson was 12 at the time, originally just going it for fun and fitness.
But then things hit serious.
“I had my first fight eight weeks later. It was a bit of a shock to my parent who though I was doing it for fitness,” she said.
“I won and that was the start of a new journey for me.”
By Gadiel Notleovitz
Australian boxer Skye Nicolson followed in her late brother Jamie’s footsteps when she medalled – hers a gold – at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, and before that when she stood on the podium at the World Championships in 2016.
On Monday, 29 years after Jamie Nicolson competed in Barcelona, Skye made her Olympic debut, scoring an impressive decision victory over Korea’s Aeji Im.
Nicolson, considered one of Australia’s best boxing medal hopes in Tokyo, put on a classy display inside the fan-less Kokugikan Arena as she picked off her opponent to win via split decision (4-1).
Skye never met Jamie or Gavin, her brothers who tragically died in a car accident in 1994 on the way to boxing training, a year before she was born.
“It’s unreal,” she said of reaching the Olympics, just like her brother did. “It’s a pretty crazy story and I’m just so glad I can be here making my family proud, and making Jamie proud, too.”
Nicolson had secured a bye to reach the Round of 16 without a sweat. She booked a place in the featherweight quarter-finals with almost as little fuss.
She’ll fight again on Wednesday against Great Britain’s Karriss Artingstall, who dealt with No. 3 seed Brazilian Jucielen Romeu in convincing fashion.
Romeu wasn’t the only seeded opponent to crash out of the featherweight bracket, with Nicolson ready to pounce.
“It’s been a day full of upsets in the division,” Nicolson said. “But I’ve said from day one that this division is very open, it’s there for the taking and today’s results have definitely proven that.”
Earlier in the day, Aussie flyweight Alex Winwood saw 20 weeks of work go down the drain in nine minutes as he dropped to a cruel split decision defeat to Zambia’s Patrick Chinyemba.
“The fight was mine to be won in the third,” Winwood told News Corp. “I didn’t do enough.”
Still, Winwood, a proud Noongar man, was delighted to have represented his country.
“If I make it around to Paris,” the 24-year-old from Perth warned, “you’re not going to see the same fighter.”