Name: Nikola Girke
Hometown: West Vancouver
Current Location: Vancouver & Weymouth, UK (Olympic Sailing Venue)
Best Career Performance: 10th 2012 RSX World Championships
Goals for next season: First finish this season off with a bang – a medal at the Olympics. Then re-evaluate goals for moving forward
Facebook fan page: Nikola Girke – Olympic Windsurfer http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nikola-Girke-Olympic-Windsurfer/316402196880
Twitter: NikGoing4Gold https://twitter.com/#!/NikGoing4Gold
Q. How did you get started in your sport? What made you decide this was your sport?
A. I started in the sport of sailing at age 9. I started sailing in a Laser 2 (double handed dinghy) and loved the sport so much that I committed all my time to it. I began racing at age 12. My first real attempts of windsurfing were made when I was 16 on Lake Arenal in Costa Rica. I say real attempts, because I did try it several times before then, but don’t really remember much. My mom actually told me (reminded me) this year about how when I was 11, I found a windsurf board advertised in the classifieds in the paper and I used all my money that I made from my paper route to buy it. I had no idea what it was (a complete adult set-up) that I bought and once I got it to the beach and rigged, and in the water, there was no way I could lift the sail out of the water. I tried and tried, but failed. I don’t think I tried windsurfing again till Costa Rica. And although I didn’t windsurf yet…I was obsessed with it. I wanted to do it. My dad and I went on a trip to Costa Rica, he wanting to check out Volcano Arenal…and since I was reading all the windsurf magazines; I saw that Lake Arenal was a hotspot for windsurfing. So I told my dad that I knew how to windsurf, I needed him convinced so we’d go there. However, it was a bit of a white lie…and once we got there, my dad wanted to see how I’d fair. It was windy, I rented short board gear (that’s all they had) and well, 8 hours later, I was water starting. I couldn’t let my dad find out that I actually hadn’t windsurfed before.
I was a sailor all through my youth, sailing and competing on the 2 person dinghy the Laser 2. I was a three-time National Youth Sailing Champion, representing Canada at the 1995 Youth Worlds placing fifth and winning the Women's Title at the 1995 Laser 2 Worlds. I had wanted to go to the Olympics in sailing - and did do the Canadian Olympic trial in '96 in the 470 (but had no chance as I was just out of youths) After high school, my sailing partner and I went separate ways and it was so much easier to do a sport by yourself than always trying to organize with someone else. I saw the windsurfers with their colorful sails zipping across the bay on the windy days…and that was it. I wanted to be a windsurfer. Olympic windsurfing dreams...never had those, as I didn’t think it was possible at the time (there was an equipment change after Athens 2004 that made it more realistic for me at my size to attempt Olympic windsurfing).
Q. You are going to the Olympics this summer in London, but your sport will not be in the 2016 games. How do you feel about that? What can fans do to help support the fight to return your sport to the games?
A. It was a terrible decision to oust windsurfing from the 2016 Olympics. It was very unexpected. It makes me really sad for all of those, youth especially, who have been training for years to try to get the chance of competing at the Olympics in windsurfing. It is an amazing sport with an incredible infrastructure worldwide and to be replaced by kiteboarding that is not Olympic ready (it has no youth program nor has the sport been developed enough with enough competitors worldwide). Fans can sign the petition-
Or send a video in about what windsurfing means to them especially from the youth of the communities that do it.
Q. What works better right before a race/match/game, a motivating slogan repeated to yourself, or visualizing the win?
A. Probably a combo of the both at different times before the race. I visualize the day ahead of me, how I want the day to look like, what I will do and the win, but then right before racing and during races I focus on the process. If I focus on the process, the results take care of themselves.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?
A. When I switched sports from crewing on the 470 sailboat at the Athens Olympic Games to Olympic Windsurfing, I lost most of my support and was up against all odds. I set an incredibly high goal for myself – to compete at the 2008 Olympics in windsurfing just 3 years later. It was all very daunting to me – and not many thought I could do it. It was hard enough taking up a new sport, needing to learn everything from scratch and pride swallowing to come in last at many of my first races, I didn’t have the financial backing to do it properly, but to continually try to believe in myself when nobody else did… that really took a toll on me. It was hard for me to always keep my chin up and keep trying knowing everyone thought I didn’t have a chance. Believing in oneself is sometimes the toughest thing to do when faced by so many challenges.
Q. What do you do when it's too hard and not fun anymore?
A. I have to make sure I’m having at least a few laughs during training… that means that I have to pick and choose my training group carefully and make sure I’m with a good group of girls. It’s never easy but being around a good group makes things better.
Changing things up is good – make training a bit different so it’s not just hard and boring.
And last but not least – think about how good it’s going to feel when I achieve my goals. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it…
Q. Who is your favorite female character in a book or movie, and why?
A. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan from “The Help”. Skeeter devoted herself, at considerable risk, to writing a book showcasing real stories of how the black domestics are being treated inequitably by their white families in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. She breaks all the rules and crosses dangerous lines. She's brave, kind, and looking for the truth and sees beyond the colour of people’s skin.
Q. What does it mean to you to be fast and female?
A. My Canadian Hero is Terry Fox. His determination, diligence, courage and attitude conquered all. He is an inspiration in each and every way. "How many people do something they really believe in?" said Fox at the news conference. "I just wish people would realize that anything's possible if you try. Dreams are made if people try." Dare to Dream, Dare to Achieve, and Dare to Succeed is my motto that I live by. I learned that one must live their dreams while one can, to take risks in order to follow one’s passion, to live in the now, as one never knows what the future may bring. Being fast and female means inspiring girls to choose an active and healthy lifestyle and to believe in themselves and that they too can achieve their dreams.
Compiled by Nancye Rahn.