Nikkita, tell us about your profession and when you knew sprinting was a passion of yours?
Running was something I always did. It sort of fell into my lap. I was always one of the fastest kids growing up running after my uncle and his friends. I joined school track at the age of 7 and at the age of 12 I got asked to join a track club. Everything took off after that – this is when I got introduced to hurdling. I hated it for the first few years but I can’t lie: when I started winning races I was like, “ Well damn, this can really be a thing for me!”
What is your child’s name and age?
My son’s name is Kaedence and he is 5 going on 25. I swear he thinks he’s my keeper.
Were you ever nervous that the pregnancy of your son would conflict with career?
I would be lying if I said it didn’t. I was nervous at the beginning as everything was a new experience for me. But, once my coaching staff and I came up with a game plan I knew my career would be fine – not without hard work and sacrifice, of course.
As a Single Mother, what has been one of the hardest lessons and how did you/do you grow from it?
As a single mother the hardest lesson I have had to learn is being patient – and boy do I still struggle with that. As an athlete who knows how to set goals and achieve them in a practice it’s a different ball-game in real life. It’s hard to learn patience in my everyday life especially with a child. But, each day is a new day for me to try and gain more patience.
How has single motherhood evolved you as an individual?
I have learned how strong I am. I never knew how strong I really was until I had no choice but to be strong emotionally – much different from being strong physically. It is hard enough getting shit together for yourself let alone for another human being who truly depends on you.
Have there been any unexpected surprised that you never expected from raising your son solo?
Ahh being 100% honest in the beginning of my single parenthood journey, I’d say the overwhelming feelings I felt of resentment and anger.
I never planned on being a single parent and for a very long time I was very angry and my son just reminded me of my failed relationship. That’s where the feelings of resentment came from. The biggest lesson I had to learn was understanding that I did everything there was to do to save my relationship. But, my relationship just wasn’t meant to be saved. Letting go and let live was the hardest.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve had to do/accomplish as a Mother?
Such a loaded question! The bravest thing I’ve had to do as a mother would be the actions I took after I fell in my 2016 Olympic semi-final race. Getting back up after falling and finishing the race as well as congratulating the rest of the competitors was a natural instinct but one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was super important to me to show Kaedence (I knew he would be watching with my parents) that no matter if you fall you need to get back up and keep at it.
Tell us how you have juggled travelling while being a Mother. Do you believe it “takes a village” to successfully parent?
I truly think it does take a village to raise a child. Traveling as a single mother was much easier when Kaedence was smaller and he could travel with me. It has become much harder with him being in school. He understands that Mama works and work might mean that I have to travel.
What are some core values you try and instil in your son as he grows?
I think raising a black child in today’s world means I have to be careful with what I teach my son. For me the main important thing I want him to know is that he is valuable, smart and important. I strive to raise a confident contributing member of society.
Do you notice any similarities between you and your child?
Oh my gosh, yes! It’s funny I used to question where I got him from – he is so full of life and talkative (just like me). But nope, it never dawned on me that he was just like me. I remember asking a girlfriend where I got this kid from and she looked at me straight faced and asked if I was serious. “Nikkita, he is literally a mini you – this was you back in grade school!”
Share with us a moment when your son was proud of you.
Pan Am Games in 2015. Kaedence was just shy of 3 years old and he was so full of excitement. He was so excited to hold my medal in his hands and then he wanted to put it on. I was totally okay with it because well, I weirdly have never been comfortable with wearing my medals – I usually hang them on my dad’s neck. It was bitter sweet to hang it on my son’s neck.
Share a moment with us when you were proud of yourself.
2016 Olympic trails that were held in Edmonton. So much was going on in my life in those very moments. 2016 was a year of struggle for me emotionally and physically and when I crossed the finish line at trial sin second place I knew I had overcome and achieved. I crossed the line and literally broke down in tears, I was so proud of myself. Making a second Olympic team was something I wanted but I was pretty unsure of it as I was in the thick of things with my personal life.
Who is your Mother Muse?
Myself- with my next pregnancy whenever that happens. Life/pregnancy will look very different this time around. I am confident, educated and self-assured.
Mother Muse, Nikkita Holder
Interviewed & Photographed by Julian Jamie