Nia Jerwood | Australian Olympic Committee

Nia's Story

Fast Facts

Sport: Sailing
Event: 470
Olympic History: Tokyo 2020 debutant
Highlights: 2017 420 World Champion 
Coach: Belinda Stowell, Ruslana Taran, Victor Kovalenko
Club: Fremantle Sailing Club
Year Born: 1998
State Born: Wales, England - moved to Western Australia at three-years-old

About Nia

Growing up in Perth, Nia Jerwood's family emigrated to Australia from Wales when she was three years old.

Her parents, Nick and Janet, competed at a sailing regatta in Esperance in Western Australia and ‘fell in love with the country,' deciding to call it home.

Nia was born into a long line of sailing success, Nick, a 2018 Viper 640 World Champion and World Champion in the Flying Fifteen class and Janet, a 2017 F15 National Champion. Together, Nick and Janet also won the 2005 Flying Fifteen World Championships in New Zealand.

Nia's brother, Matt is also an elite sailor, teaming up with Nick during their 2018 Viper 640 World Championship win.

From the time they were children, the Jerwood family would spend weekends out on their boats, but Nia grew tired of waiting around on the shore while her older siblings went out sailing.

After what seemed like a lifetime to the youngster, her parents gifted Nia her own boat, when she was five.

Nia joined Shelley Sailing Club and began her own sailing journey, and at just 11 years old won her first major title, the Australian Optimist Nationals in 2010.

The year after, she was taken on by coach, Olympic legend and gold medallist, Belinda Stowell, who Jerwood says is the most dedicated and determined person she knows.

Now, Jerwood is also coached by Ukrainian-born Olympian Ruslana Taran, a 1997 World Champion and Sailor of the Year and Victor Kovalenko, who coached Taran to bronze at Atlanta 1996. 

In 2015, as Jerwood was preparing for the 2016 Youth World Championships, she suffered a knee injury.

The teenager underwent a bilateral knee reconstruction during her final year at school. After surgery, she was unable to bend her legs and was in a lot of pain.

She underwent rigorous physiotherapy post-op, to regain her movement and muscle function.  After spending time in a wheelchair, then crutches, she finally got back in the boat on May 1, 2015.

The 2015 420 World Championships were in July in Japan, which was Nia's first big competition back from injury. Her crewmate Lisa Smith and Jerwood placed an impressive fourth, before going on to place second overall at the 2016 Youth World Championships. 

The WAIS athlete continued to bounce back from her injury and in 2017, she claimed gold at Sail Sydney, silver at Sail Melbourne Regatta, 10th in the Sailing World Cup Series in Japan and third at the 420 National Championships.

2018 was a defining year for then 19-year-old, when she won gold at the 420 World Championships, she was also awarded a Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship, being mentored by Hockeyroos' great, Liane Tooth.

In 2019, Nia and her 470 partner, Monique de Vries, qualified Australia a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, when they finished ninth overall at the 470 World Championships. 

The pair then went on to win their first medal on the world stage, when they claimed silver at the opening round of the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima with their achievements recognised by being named Australian Female Sailors of the Year for 2019 at the Australian Sailing Awards.

Read More

Get involved…

Want to have a go at Sailing, or find the nearest club to you?

Visit Sailing Australia


What inspired you to pursue your sport?
What do you enjoy most about competing?
What are your hobbies when not competing?
Who is your biggest inspiration?