NICOLA DORE has had cerebral palsy since birth.
Now 27 and confined to a wheelchair, the young woman is positively beaming about the opportunities that lie in store for her - and she is literally grabbing one chance with both hands and all the strength she can muster.
Already a seasoned competitor on the track in Limerick, where she has won the wheelchair race of the women’s mini marathon on several occasions, Nicola has now made the Irish para-powerlifting team and has become the first Irish woman to do so.
“I want to be the first Irish woman to make it to Rio [in this sport] in 2016,” she enthuses. “I have a lot of confidence, don’t see any limitations in my life. I like challenges and I want to prove it’s not just a sport for men.”
Nicola only started training in earnest this February, when someone enquired if she would be interested in trying it out.
She got on to the team “fairly quickly”, which she is still thrilled by, and is now hoping to make the European championships in Hungary this coming November.
She lifted 37.5kg in a bench-press on her first night, and is on a programme to lift 55kg, but already has that feat under her belt. In the early stages of her training, she managed to do two reps of 50kg - now she is doing 24 reps in one session.
In addition to training in Limerick, Cork and Dublin - particularly under Ryan Flanagan and Arthur Lynch in the UL Arena - her own home is kitted out with all the equipment she needs, allowing her to train at any given opportunity.
Para-powerlifters lift weights while lying on their backs and with their legs strapped down, she explained.
While Nicola enjoys all sports, particularly basketball, para-powerlifting is now consuming all of her focus, as she prepares for the European and potentially the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
However, to support her endeavours she is in need of financial support for the trips abroad.
In the London Olympic Games in 2012, Roy Guerin, a former wheelchair track athlete, became the first Irishman in over 50 years to compete in Paralympic powerlifting. Could Nicola also enter the history books? To support her and follow her progress see her Facebook page under Nicola Dore Para Powerlifter.