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Ex-Newtonmore Primary School pupil heading to 2024 Olympic Games in Paris

By Andrew Henderson

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A former Newtonmore Primary School pupil will be competing at the Olympic Games in Paris later this month.

Nikoline Laidlaw has been named in the Denmark rowing squad for the landmark event, competing in the women’s eights.

It is the first time Denmark have qualified for this boat type at Olympic standard, and marks the highlight of a five-year work in progress for Laidlaw personally after moving to Denmark in 2019 to pursue her Olympic ambitions.

The 29-year-old has family who live and work in Badenoch and Strathspey, and as a youngster she attended Newtonmore Primary School in the 2004/05 academic year.

She would then move to Dunblane, where she completed high school, and thereafter gained scholarships for Kent School in North America where she was introduced to running.

That would lead to a two-year scholarship with American college sports powerhouse, the University of Connecticut, for two years, followed up by another three years at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

It was that time in SoCal that was pivotal to Laidlaw’s development, with three of her then-teammates making it to this summer’s Olympics in their own right, representing Denmark, Great Britain and Czechia.

Laidlaw would train with Team GB when she returned home during summer months, but with no guarantee over her position the dual national was approached by Denmark, and Laidlaw moved to Copenhagen where she completed her masters’ degree while training with the national team.

She has now been representing Denmark for six years, and with the squad finished second in the Olympic qualifiers at the end of May behind only Italy.

Writing on social media, Laidlaw commented: “I’m going to be an Olympian! (It) was a historic day for Denmark, the first time a Danish women’s eight qualified for the Olympics. Additionally, our women’s four and pair also qualified, marking the first time Denmark will send 15 female rowers to the Olympics.

“In 2019 I made the choice to move to Denmark to pursue the Olympic dream, and I am beyond proud to say I’ll be a 2024 Olympian.

“I would like to thank my teammates, co-workers, and, coach who made my path to this point possible. A big shout out to my entire family, especially my Dad and Mor who have believed and supported in my ambitions from the start.

“Additionally, I would not have gotten to this point without the flexibility that VAIX, a sportradar company, provided me during this time period leading up to the final Olympic Qualification Regatta, I am forever grateful.

“I would also like to thank the anonymous sponsor who backed our project and made all of this possible.”

The rowing events at the 2024 Olympic Games begin on Saturday, July 27, and will take place at Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium located just outside Paris.

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