NOWRA-Culburra Surf lifesaving Nipper Holly Abbey has returned from the NSW Championships a roaring success after she took gold in the beach sprint.
The 10-year-old competed in the under 11 age group against 260 other entrants in the championships held from February 28 to March 2.
Holly swiftly made her way through the heats, quarter-finals and semi-finals until she was one of the eight girls in the final.
Holly went into the final with some tough competition, including three girls from the strong Elouera club.
“The race felt really fast and the girls there were really competitive and had won the competition in past years, so there was a lot of pressure,” Holly said.
Holly led most of the way, but the last three metres was in trouble with barely anything separating first from fifth place.
“I was really happy with the way I ran but I felt a little worried because at the end of the race I was not really sure where I came – I thought I had finished third,” she said.
The girls had to wait a long time in the finish area, but it was eventually announced that Holly had taken gold.
“I was really excited because I had finished eighth last year and third the year before, so first was a really big jump for me,” she said.
Holly is no rookie when it comes to surf lifesaving competition.
The young gun is a seasoned competitor at club, branch, NSW state and NSW country titles.
With youth development coach Sean Hendry working with Holly and focusing on her beach sprint and beach flags, she was ready to give the NSW championships a red hot go.
Holly also contested the beach flags, but just missed out on making the semi-finals in what was a competitive division.
Holly and her family live in Canberra, but the Abbeys are well known in the Nowra-Culburra club.
The family has travelled to the Shoalhaven every weekend for the past 15 summers and is an integral part of the club and community.
Holly’s sister, Amy is a champion Nipper and was named the 2013 South Coast Junior Lifesaver of the Year.
Mum, Karen, is a patrol member with the Nowra-Culburra club.
Holly followed her sister into the sport and has been a Nipper ever since she was old enough, in the under six age group.
“I like that it is not just one event, but multiple. I like the ironman and how it includes most of the events except the flags,” Holly said.