After a period of illness, GB rower and Fermanagh native Holly Nixon is back in the game and has her sight set on potentially fulfilling her Olympic dream.

"It’s been quite a hard year for me with my condition but I have to say, coming back into the GB team and coming second in the Olympic trials in November was definitely a relief to finally see that I could be back in the game and potentially fulfilling my Olympic dream," said Holly, speaking to The Impartial Reporter.

"It’s definitely been a bumpy ride, to begin with I was quite nervous integrating back into the team, I felt a little bit out of place but now over time I’ve felt more part of the team atmosphere again and I'm really enjoying the momentum of the girls," she shared, adding: "They are all really strong, talented athletes and with such a hard training regime, really the momentum of the girls is so so important, especially around this time of year when it’s the hard winter miles, they really carry you through."

"I feel very lucky and honoured, day in and out, to be training alongside some of the best athletes in the world," commented Holly.

Explaining the selection process for the GB Olympic women's rowing team, Holly said: "We have three official sets of Olympic trials which take place in November, December and March so we are now coming up to our last trials, that’s normally called the final Olympic trials which is in the middle of March. That will be our final chance to prove ourselves to the selection team to try and gain a seat."

Talking about her personal goals, Holly continued: "The way I’ve sort of been looking at it myself this season is from last season’s World Championships we managed to qualify five seats for the Olympic Games so that was the women’s single and the women’s quad. The little target I have been setting personally is to try and come in the top five as a minimum at each trial, but we are also hoping to qualify a double. If that works out, for me there’s mainly two opportunities, I’d quite like to be in a crew boat so the quad or the double."

"So we started the process in November and there must have been about 40 people and now we have a team of nine training at the GB Olympic Centre but it’s still open for other people to come in but I think predominantly now there’s probably nine of us in for the five seats we currently have," she added.

Currently out in Portugal at the first training camp of the Olympic year, Holly is undertaking an intense training regime in the lead up to the final Olympic trials.

"We are out in Portugal and training most days, three times a day but some of the days we train twice so we are probably doing up to 20 sessions a week," she explained.

"We are out on the water at the minute doing some crew boat stuff again, so now we are starting to transition into rowing together because we spent a lot of the winter in individual boats, we also do a lot in the weights gym so a lot of weights and lots on the rowing machine and circuit style training," Holly said.

To keep her energy up whilst completing such an intense training regime, Holly must maintain a high calorie diet, which includes eating two breakfasts.

"When we are on training camps we could be eating up to as much as 3,500 or 4,000 calories a day to keep our weight up," she shared.

Sharing what she eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Holly said: "It’s sort of a mix of everything. I’m a big fan of eggs so I would often have scrambled eggs on toast in the morning or some Weetabix or things like that. But we do end up having two breakfasts in a day because we have a breakfast before we train and a breakfast after. Then lunch, we’ve got a really good chef on the team so a lot of carbs, a lot of pasta, potatoes or rice. Definitely some form of meat again and lots of vegetables and then dinners, I’m quite traditional so I like a good roast or a shepherd’s pie or bolognaise."

When she is not training, Holly revealed that she enjoys baking as a way to relax: "I quite like baking, it’s quite a big hobby, so I like cooking sometimes or baking something." She also enjoys going for a coffee with her friends or taking walks through forest parks. She added: "Things like that just to try and switch off."

At the start of January, Holly was appointed as a vice captain of Leander Club for 2020. Although she is currently based in England, Holly still maintains strong links with her former club, the then Portora Boat Club, now Enniskillen Royal Boat Club, where she first started rowing at the age of 12.

"I purposely take a lot of strength and drive from friends and family in particular. So obviously my old rowing club which was Portora Boat Club, now named Enniskillen Royal Boat Club. There’s still a lot of people who I grew up with in my career who are really supportive and having the girls I train with close, day in and day out, for me is the most important thing."

"I want to train hard and do the best I can for them and in a way it feels like you’re giving something back to all those people who have supported you for so long," Holly told this newspaper.