A bronze medal-winning Olympian has visited rural Southland to inspire youngsters to follow their dreams.
Nico Porteous, who is 16, won a bronze medal for New Zealand at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics for freestyle skiing in the men's ski halfpipe. On Tuesday, May 15 he visited several rural schools in Southland including Lumsden, Dipton and Mossburn, to give a fun and interactive talk with the students and show off his medal, competition bib and other memorabilia from the Olympics.
The visit was organised by the Northern Southland Community Resource Centre Charitable Trust (NSCRCCT) as part of its mission to bring inspiring and thought-provoking speakers to the area.
Community coordinator Kim Spencer-McDonald contacted Nico via Instagram shortly after his medal-winning performance and asked if he would visit northern Southland to inspire the students with his story.
"He said yes straight away," she said.
"We have a great relationship with the local schools and feedback from them about guest speakers was for the trust to bring someone to our area who is uplifting, inspiring and who the students can relate to. Nico fits this brief perfectly, and I believe he is a wonderful youth ambassador."
Nico told the students being presented with the Olympic bronze medal was a very special moment.
"It's something I still can't believe is quite real... Somehow I was lucky enough to come home with a medal."
However, it wasn't all down to luck — Nico said he had a dream, a goal and a plan to get the results he wanted, and was willing to do the hard work. One important aspect of this was to "control the controllables".
"You have to control what you can, what's in front of you at the time. Everyone gets the same opportunity to win."
Throughout his steps towards qualifying for the Winter Olympics, Nico had to focus on learning the tricks that would put him ahead of other competitors and produce consistent results to gain selection to the team.
"Never stop believing it's possible or give up on yourself. Don't give up on it if it gets too hard.
"Push through the hard times to make sure you achieve that goal," he said.
"It takes time to figure out how you work best."
Nico also emphasised to the students how important it was to surround themselves with good people to help them through their goals.
For now, Nico said he would continue to do much of the same, with training and getting in a bit of school.
"My dream is to be happy and enjoy what I do surrounded by the people I love, family and friends."