Nicole Boyle was born and raised in Saskatoon, but her three Canada Summer Games medals in canoeing will count towards Manitoba’s total.

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Nicole Boyle was born and raised in Saskatoon, but her three Canada Summer Games medals in canoeing will count towards Manitoba’s total.

Boyle has the whole set — a bronze in the C-2 200-metre event, silver in the C-2 1,000m and a gold in the IC-4 200m — and after each medal victory, the Saskatchewan canoe team reminds her where she’s from.

Team Manitoba's Nicole Boyle celebrates on the dock Friday after her and her teammates paddled to victory in the IC4 200m final at the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre.

JUSTIN SAMANSKI-LANGILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Team Manitoba's Nicole Boyle celebrates on the dock Friday after her and her teammates paddled to victory in the IC4 200m final at the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre.

"Whenever I get a medal, the (Saskatchewan canoers) come to me and say half of that medal is for Saskatchewan," said Boyle.

Boyle has been spending her summers training in Winnipeg since 2015, which makes her eligible to compete for Manitoba. The official Canada Games rules are an athlete must have either lived in a province for a minimum of six months, or have represented them at a prior competition. Boyle checks both requirements as she’s been part of Team Manitoba at the last two nationals and has lived in Winnipeg for the past six months. For Boyle to make it in the sport, she didn’t have much of a choice but to move as she was the only competitive canoer in Saskatoon.

"It’s really hard to train by yourself," she said.

With two Winnipeg canoers, Maddy Mitchell and Nadya Crossman-Serb, always beating her in national competitions, she knew exactly where she needed to go.

"Seeing Nadya and Maddy always ahead of me just made me really want to catch them. I just thought if I came (to Winnipeg) for training, it would make it easier to see my goal and get there — so I moved. It was me wanting to be up there with the pack that made me want to take it more seriously," said Boyle.

Crossman-Serb is now a member of the Canadian national team and Mitchell is one of Boyle’s Team Manitoba teammates this week at the Games. Mitchell was in the canoe with Boyle for all three of her Canada Games medals. Their relationship started when Boyle first made the trip to Winnipeg and Mitchell and her family took her in and gave her a place to stay.

"The girls are really tight-knit in canoeing. Everyone knows each other because we’re a bit of a smaller group. We’re all rooting for each other because it’s a growing sport, but it’s still pretty small," said the 18-year old Boyle.

Boyle, who started in the sport when she was 13, says with canoe racing being added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she and her teammates are more motivated than ever.

"Before, it was the world championships and that was it. There were never the Olympic Games for the female canoe community. Now that it’s there, everybody really wants to make it," said Boyle.

Despite being proud of her Saskatchewan roots, Boyle has taken a liking to wearing Manitoba’s yellow and black at competitions. She considers Winnipeg her second home and she loves being a part of Team Manitoba, but she hasn’t fully ditched her former province.

"I went to the men’s gold medal baseball game between Manitoba and Saskatchewan last week. Deep down, I was still rooting for Saskatchewan and I was really happy that they won," she said.

taylor.allen@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen
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Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.

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