Nicola “Nikki” Payne

(1966 – )​ | Rowing

Nikki Payne made history at the 1988 summer Olympic Games in Seoul when she and partner Lynley Hannen finished third in the women's coxless pair to give New Zealand its first ever Olympic women's rowing medal.

She was also the world under-23 single sculls champion in 1986 after placing fourth in the junior world single scull two years earlier, was sixth in the coxless pair at the 1989 world championships in Bled (Yugoslavia) and was fourth in the coxless four and sixth in the eight at the 1990 world championships in Tasmania.​

At the national level Nikki won 14 New Zealand premier women's titles for the Hamilton club between 1986 and 1990 in the coxless pair, double scull, quadruple scull, four and eight, including five successive coxless pair championships.

In addition Nikki won seven Swiss national titles between 1987 and 1989.

Despite being national champions for two years, Nikki and Nelson-born partner Lynley Hannen were 'novices' when they went to Europe in a bid to qualify for the Olympics after missing original selection in the 1988 New Zealand team for the Seoul Olympic Games.

Under Whanganui-born coach Harry Mahon, who coached national crews from New Zealand, Switzerland and South Africa, Nikki and Lynley went to Europe to train and race in a late bid to qualify for Olympic selection.

Second place in an international regatta in Lucerne earned them selection for Seoul where they were runners-up in their heat, won the repechage and were comfortably third behind Romania and Bulgaria in the final, five seconds ahead of East Germany who had beaten them by 14 seconds in the Lucerne regatta.

Nikki, born in Hong Kong, arrived in Whanganui with her family at the age of two, attended St John's Hill School, Wanganui Intermediate and Wanganui High School where she started her successful rowing career on the Whanganui River.

She was twice in Wanganui High School's winning four-oar and eight-oar crews at the national Maadi Cup secondary schools' championships and also added the under-18 single and double sculls at one of the regattas.

As a member of the Wanganui Rowing Club Nikki won the intermediate double scull and was in the champion intermediate eight at the 1983 New Zealand regatta on Lake Horowhenua in 1983.

The 1988 Olympic bronze medal proved an inspiration for New Zealand women's rowing which has enjoyed so much international success at Olympic Games, world championships and World Cup regattas over the years.

Page reviewed: 23 Nov 2016 2:49pm