Five years ago Nikki Ayers was lying in a Canberra hospital bed unbeknownst to her she would go on to compete at a Paralympics and be on track for her next dream.
Ayers and her Australian PR3 mixed coxed four rowing team crossed the line in fourth in Tokyo, something she described as bittersweet at first, before the reality sunk in.
"It was so surreal, just thinking that five years ago I was in a hospital bed waiting for them to amputate my leg and now I'm at a Paralympics," Ayers said.
"The best moment for me was when we finished our first race. We crossed that line and I just sat there for a moment and was like, 'wow, we're in Tokyo, I'm a Paralympian'."
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Reflecting on her rugby union injury, the 30-year-old said the best thing a person could do - if they were born with a disability or developed one - was embrace it and find those opportunities.
"For me, rowing was that light at the end of the tunnel. My rugby career was over and I thought my whole sporting career was like that, but instead I've been able to turn that injury into a positive," she said.
"The biggest thing is you've got to come to terms with the injury first and once you do that it's realising that having a disability creates so many opportunities for you."
Since ticking off her Paralympic dream, the intensive care nurse has her eyes set on working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service one day.
She will get a step closer to her dream next year, by joining a 12-month placement in Bega to become a midwife, before contemplating a Paris 2024 push.
"It's something I've been wanting to do for a while but with rowing, making that AUS team and traveling so much, I just haven't been able to do it," she said.
"So next year I'm going to do that, focus on that and stay fit, as well, and then in 2022 I will get back into it and probably aim for Paris."