When Allan Nicolson watches his daughter compete in boxing he says it ‘sends a shiver down [his] spine’.
This week, 22-year-old Skye Nicolson will be doing just that, representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Queensland.
Her skill is undeniable. She is strong, fast, tricky and evasive. But every time her father watches her, he is struck by an eerie sense of dejavu.
Skye, he insists, boxes exactly like her brother.
Jamie Nicolson, who won a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games and competed in the Barcelona Olympics, was Australia’s first boxer to ever win a world championship medal, and all before he turned 22; the same age Skye is now.
In 1994, at the height of his success, Jamie was driving down the Pacific Highway at Helensvale with his 10-year-old brother Gavin on their way to boxing training, when they were both killed in a car accident.
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A year later, overwhelmed by grief, Allan, who was 45, and their mother Pat, who was 42, had another child, Skye.
She was born, it would seem, with the same remarkable prowess as the older brother she never met, and at 12 she began training at the family gym.
People always told her how much she looked like Jamie, but their likeness extended far beyond their features.
When Skye was 18, she sat down and watched Jamie’s Commonwealth Games fight for the first time, and was shocked at how similarly they fought.
“It’s like people are watching him when they watch me,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. “There are weird little things like that I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I feel like he’s living through me, but I still want to be known as my own person and athlete.”
Her parents cried through the first few fights, feeling as though they’d travelled back in time, but now, Skye said, they’re used to it.
“I feel like I almost knew him in a way because I have this clear, clear image of a brother I never knew,” she added.
“I’ve always grown up knowing about Jamie and Gavin – we celebrate the lives they had. Jamie did so much by the time he was 22, it was unbelieveable.”
Last year, Skye won a bronze medal at the world championships in Kazakhstan – the same medal her brother won, in the same championships, 27 years before.
It’s now been nearly 25 years since Allan and Pat Nicolson lost their two sons, and this week, for the second time, they will watch one of their children compete in the Commonwealth Games.
Skye’s goal is a gold medal, and if she wins, she says her parents will be “absolutely thrilled”.