From the pool to the track - Kiwi Paralympian Nikita Howarth
Less than two years after winning Paralympic gold in Rio as a swimmer, New Zealand's Nikita Howarth returns to the site of her victory; this time as a cyclist competing at the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships.
Howarth became New Zealand's youngest ever Paralympian at the age of 13 when she competed in swimming at the London Paralympic Games in 2012. She returned to the Paralympics in Rio to win gold (200m individual medley) and bronze (50m butterfly) medals in swimming.
Howarth was born with a congenital bilateral arm deficiency, with no right hand and her left arm ending below the elbow.
However, post-Rio, Howarth began looking for new challenges. Inspired by a school visit back when she was eight from retired Kiwi track cycling Olympic and UCI World Champion Sarah Ulmer, Howarth decided to give the sport a try.
After attending training camps with the New Zealand national team, Howarth discovered a new aptitude, which has since translated into bronze medals at the recent national track championships, in the 500 metre time trial and the 3000 metre individual pursuit.
Howarth admitted in a Paralympic New Zealand interview, "I didn’t expect to get this far. To get to Worlds 18 months after I finished swimming is pretty extreme for me. I just want to prove that I'm a good athlete, doing two sports is an achievement in itself I think, and a medal or two wouldn't hurt, but that's long term stuff."