The darling of the Sydney Olympics tells Lucy Chesterton how being ripped off by a trusted advisor left her fighting to regain her career and self-esteem.
Looking at Nikki Webster
posing confidently for the camera, it's difficult to believe her practised showgirl smile hides years of personal betrayal that robbed her of her innocence – and most of her money.
With her life and her career now headed back on track, Nikki opens up to Woman's Day
about the dark times that pushed her to the edge.
Fleeing Australia after she says she was duped out of her hard-won earnings by someone in her inner circle, Nikki battled deep depression and some serious body image issues alone in Los Angeles.
"When I went to LA by myself I would call my parents constantly, sitting in a little apartment by myself sobbing and thinking I couldn't go on any more," Nikki remembers.
"I had so many low moments. It still gives me shivers when I think about it."
While she will not name the person she says she trusted with her career and finances, her frank admission that she was fleeced displays a lost innocence, and a deep wariness of people with "greedy, jealous agendas".
"I was ripped off financially – to an extreme degree – but money is money, and what you remember isn't the money you lose, but what happened to you," she says. "People who were very close to me completely destroyed my faith in who I was, and from that point I learnt to distrust people…"