By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two South Florida athletes are going for the gold at the Tokyo Olympics, which were put on hold until this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lara Dallman-Weiss and Nikole Barnes are sailors, training in Miami. It’s a sport that is all about braving the elements.

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With smiles on their faces, this duo makes it look easy. Of course, it’s anything but. It takes strength of body and mind.

“My body hangs over the boat, but I’m still half of its inside, and so it’s like doing a plank the whole, maybe for 15 minutes up wind,” explained Lara.

Lara Dallman-Weiss and Nikole Barnes training for summer Olympics in Miami. (CBS4)

It also takes a strong understanding of all of the elements.

“But then there’s also this intense like chess game of playing the wind, playing the different boats,”

It’s also very beautiful.

“We see different weather every day. Different wildlife. We are so lucky to be in this sport,” said Lara.

It doesn’t take the perfect soulmate, but the perfect sailmate.

“Right away, we were just super-fast and we worked and without knowing each other,” said Lara.

“It felt like a first date,” laughed Nikki.

Both Lara and Nikki have been sailing since they were 6-years old.

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Lara almost gave it up for a data analysis job.

Nikki is also a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, currently stationed at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami.

Nikole Barnes

“Nikki is the first officer in the Coast Guard that they have allowed to be active duty and train for the Olympics so this is a big first,” said Lara.

This duo has experienced a lot of rough waves in their three years sailing together and not just on the water. The two were in Spain training in February of 2020, when their Olympic dreams were put on hold.

“We were three days away from our final Olympic qualifier, we put everything into it,” recalled Nikki.

“You have the prep, all of the adrenaline, like everything going into like this is our world. This is our Olympic qualifier. And then all of a sudden, like the whole boat park is packing up. Everyone’s going home, like rushing to get on flights and like, you’re just sitting at home alone, isolated, like what do we do now?” said Lara.


Now after almost a year of training in Miami, the two are headed back to Spain for one more lap.

“It’s our final push before our Olympic qualifier in March and that’ll be our final step before we qualify as a team for Team USA,” said Nikki.

Lara and Nikki’s sailing category is the Women’s 470 because the boat they sail is called a 470.

There are ten different type of boats, each a different category.

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Lara & Nikki’s goal is not only to make it to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but also to medal while representing Team USA.

Frances Wang