Talented Nicole gets the call from GB

Angie Rose presents the 2011 Young Sportswoman of the Year Award to winner Nicole MacKenzie.  Picture: Sarah Standing
Angie Rose presents the 2011 Young Sportswoman of the Year Award to winner Nicole MacKenzie. Picture: Sarah Standing
Havant & Waterlooville swimming club raised money with their channel challenge. Picture: Jonathan Stock

Havant & Waterlooville stars go to great lengths

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Young swimming talent Nicole Mackenzie is determined to fulfil her African adventure after being called up to the Great Britain team for the World Transplant Games.

The 15-year-old Purbrook Park pupil has been selected for the showpiece in Durban, South Africa next July, when a variety of both adult and junior competitions are held across a week’s worth of sporting action.

Juniors aged from five to 17 years old can compete in badminton, cycling, squash, table tennis, tennis, athletics and swimming.

Mackenzie, who underwent a kidney transplant three years ago, has excelled in previous top-level sporting events and is determined to bring home the medals for her country once again.

Her father David said: ‘Nicole got into competitive swimming a year after her transplant and she just keeps progressing all the time.

‘She joined Portsmouth Northsea and they have been brilliant with her.

‘She’s getting closer and closer to Hampshire-standard times. She’s hoping to get a couple of the qualifying times to move up to the next squad.

‘But she’s gone from strength to strength and it’s great to see how well she’s done.

‘We went to watch the Transplant Games soon after she’d had her transplant and she said she wanted to be in it one day.’

The teenager was already into several sports – and still plays football for Widbrook United – but stepped up her competitive swimming only after her operation.

And the 2011 young sportswoman of the year at The News’ Sports Awards is eager to build on an impressive medals haul from recent events.

Mackenzie was at the UK Games in Medway this year and came away with five gold medals and one bronze – and grabbed four medals at the World Transplant Games two years ago.

But while many parents often have to make huge sacrifices for their children to help them make the most of their sporting talents, dad David’s influence has been enormous after he became the donor which has transformed his daughter’s life.

He explained: ‘Nicole suffered kidney failure at the age of three but finally underwent a transplant in 2009.

‘Myself and my wife Julie were both compatible donors but we decided that I would become the donor.

‘The transformation for Nicole after the transplant was amazing.

‘Within a few days it had made a huge difference.

‘And although I was walking around like an old man for a while, it hasn’t really affected me at all.

‘I’ve done a couple of triathlons since then.’

Portchester’s Emily Potter is also due to compete at the showpiece having also undergone a kidney transplant within a few weeks of the teenage swimmer.

But Mackenzie is also looking for sponsorship to help raise funds to pay for the cost of the trip to Durban to compete for Great Britain.

Visit justgiving.com/nicole-mackenzie1 for more details.