29 Aug 2012
Youngest ever kiwi Paralympian looking to make a name for herself
It’s an easy bow to draw suggesting Paralympic swimmer Nikita Howarth could be the next Sophie Pascoe, but if the young
13 year old from Cambridge has anything to do with it at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, you’ll remember her for being
the first Nikita Howarth.
Howarth is a shy, young teenage girl, but once she slips into the pool her demeanour changes in an instant. She’s
focused, determined and ready for everything that’s coming her way.
“She’s just a neat country kid, and just wants to get out there and show everyone who she is, I think she’s going to
show everyone what she’s made of and that will just be the start, you know once you get a taste for it, maybe Rio [the
next Paralympics] she’ll want to go out and get a few more," said New Zealand Paralympic swim coach Simon Mayne.
Mayne remembers taking Pascoe to her first world championship event in Durban back in 2006, where she won bronze and he
can already see the similarities. “That was the start, where she got the hunger for it and I can see Nikita doing the
same, we’re really hoping we can get her a medal and spring board from there and next time go for a few more events.”
At thirteen Howarth is the youngest competitor to ever compete for New Zealand at a Paralympic Games. And the risks that
come with that are no secret to the NZP management team.
"We just try and make it as normal as possible, don’t go out there and expect it to be quiet, it’s going to be noisy,
just get out there and do your thing, try and get into the zone and do the things you’ve been working at. The water's
the water, the lane ropes are the same, there’s just going to be a few more people and she’s just got to go out there
and do her best."
As plain as it may sound, keeping it simple is the recipe Mayne and the team swear by, “ If we try and make it too
complicated and start worrying about things then you don’t do your best. I just want her to be as relaxed as possible,
get out there in her first race and hopefully have a good start.”
Howarth’s also been handed a favourable draw to the start to her competition, starting with the 50 metre fly on day two
of the games, before the hundred breaststroke and finally her favoured 200 metre individual medley on day four, Sunday
the 31st of August, local time.