Holly Nixon has described her first ever victory at the Henley Royal Regatta as an ‘amazing experience’. 
The Fermanagh rower was a member of the quad team that defeated Polish opposition in the final to claim the Princess Grace Challenge Cup, and she admits it was a memorable moment.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Holly said.
 “It was my first win at Henley Royal and it was an amazing experience. I did race there in 2014 and made the semi-final but was disappointed not to win. 
“It’s very unique in that for more than half the race there is a constant crowd and because we were racing a crew from Poland we definitely had the crowd on our side which was amazing coming in that last 500. 
“There was constant cheering the whole way down. It was special.”
The four rowers had only come together for the first time ten days before the Regatta so had virtually no experience of rowing together, but despite that they proved the fastest crew, winning a local semi-final before triumphing over proven quality opponents in the final.
“With being such a new crew we learnt a lot in each race and then we were able to work on that and improve throughout the Regatta,” said Holly. 
“On Sunday it was exciting because we were going into the unknown. 
“The only information we knew was that the crew we were facing were Under 23 world champions last summer, so they had been together at least two years.
“We weren’t sure our skills would quite match theirs. Getting into the race we built up an early lead, but they came back at us and put us under some pressure. 
“Then we sprinted into the end and won by one boat length which was comfortable enough to know that we had won, but we had to tough out the middle of the race to gain our place. 
“It was definitely a well-earned win.”
Their debut success could well mark the start of a bright future for the crew, but Holly admits she is not yet sure what the future holds. 
“It’s not set in stone but it could be a quad for the future,” she said. 
“We will have to wait and see how that pans out. I’m going to try to do some testing internally and potentially try for the senior world championship, but that is very new so I’m not sure how that is going to go.”