Embracing the fear to take on Mount Multisport

Nikayla Wood. Supplied photos.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway,” is the motto of 23-year-old woman who will be at the fore when she takes part in the Mount Festival of Multisport in Mt Maunganui on January 22.

Rotorua’s Nikayla Wood was born with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy which affects her speech and motor-skills confining her fulltime to a wheelchair.

Despite this, Nikayla is on a quest to be an inspiration for others living with disabilities and doesn’t let anything hold her back, with a myriad of goals and adventures on her horizon.

From white water rafting to boxing, Nikayla is constantly defying the odds.
Despite being unable to walk and having limited control over her movements, this doesn’t stop Nikayla and she is always looking for new challenges, with the goal to inspire others.

“Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I have to miss out! We just have to figure out a way to make it work for me.

“I am hoping that when people see me taking part and doing my best, it may inspire at least one person to get out of their comfort zone and give things a go.”

During Nikayla’s journey to keep active and take on new challenges, she has discovered a love for swimming and will be taking on the brand new Pilot Bay Ocean Swim event on January 22.

Being able to take part in events like the Pilot Bay Swim means a lot to Nikayla, and will be the biggest swim she has done.

“I am always trying to find something new that gets me out of my comfort zone. It means so much to me to be able to take part. I hope it helps more events to head in the right direction and include people of all abilities to take part.”

The Pilot Bay Swim is a brand new event joining the Fulton Hogan Mount Festival calendar.  

The swim takes place alongside the festival’s iconic Tauranga Half triathlon, AquaBike and Mount Run events.

The Pilot Bay Swim was launched to provide an offering for the festival and encourage more people to take part, with a 750m, 2km and 3.7km option catering for swimmers at all levels.

Nikayla will be taking part in the 750m swim alongside her two guides and will be the longest swim she has done.

Since she started swimming in 2019 with Swim-Able, an organisation to help people of all abilities to swim, Nikayla hasn’t looked back.

“When I started swimming, I was scared and felt out my depth, but I felt the fear and did it anyway. After a while, I grew a little more confident. Being part of the group ‘Swim-Able’ is awesome and has opened doors for me including open water swimming events and triathlons, just being part of a team is fantastic and something I never thought I could be a part of.”

Event director Julia Tilley is looking forward to the inaugural event.

“We are really looking forward to welcoming a new group of ocean swimmers to the Fulton Hogan Mount Festival.

“We wanted to include an event that was accessible and achievable for a wide range of participants and have included three distances to cater for this. There is going to be such a great buzz seeing swimmers, triathletes and runners of all levels get involved across the whole festival.”

The Fulton Hogan Mount Festival will see more than 2000 participants descend on Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui across the four different events.

The pinnacle event of the festival is the Tauranga Half, which has been running for 33 years.

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