by Lindsey Bell
Throughout the week, as we approach the anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games on 27 July, we’ll hear from members of the 2012 British Sailing Team who reflect on their own Games experiences, how they themselves were inspired by 2012, and on life and sailing since the London Olympic flame went out and the focus switched to Rio 2016.
Alison Young (GBR) competing in the Medal Race Women’s One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
London 2012 was the Olympic debut for Laser Radial sailor Alison Young, who finished fifth after a tight battle for the podium spots. The Bewdley sailor has made strong start to her Rio 2016 campaign, claiming four podium spots from the five events she’s contested this year to establish herself as one of the names to watch in the class:
Time flies when you're having fun and I can't believe it's already one year on from the Games. Racing in Weymouth was an unforgettable experience – although the result wasn't what I was after, it was a fair reflection of my racing skills at the time.
Seeing the Nothe packed out with spectators was pretty cool and it's strange that having spent one-third of my time training off there last year I haven't sailed there since. Going up to London for the Closing Ceremony made me realise quite how big an event the Olympics had been for the whole of the UK. Being part of the British Sailing Team was a great experience, although there is one thing I don't miss, and that’s ‘Genty’s spa’ - otherwise known as ice baths!
One of my most memorable moments from the Games was the contrast in emotions on the 470 medal race day. Luke and Stu elated with silver and Hannah gutted with silver despite having raced a great regatta with Sas. Watching the rest of the British sailors picking up their medals definitely fuelled the fire to make sure that it's me next time around!
I was excited to get back in the boat in October to start on my road to Rio. I spent most of the winter trying to avoid the cold of the UK, with training camps in Tenerife, Murcia and Palma. Training with the rest of the British squad and our coach Hugh Styles I have had a very productive winter working on technique and decision-making. I've also got in some sailing in different, crewed boats – RS200s, SB20s and J24s – which has been fun, though my communication definitely needs some work as no-one else seems able to read my mind! Having medalled at the first three events of 2013 things are heading in the right direction and I'm looking forward to carrying the momentum into the European and World Championships later this year.
A lot can happen in a year though, and tragically Andrew Simpson lost his life this year. He was the nicest guy on the team, always had good advice for the younger members and always had a smile on his face. During the trials and Games last year one of the things he always used to ask was 'are you enjoying it', which epitomised his approach – work hard and have fun doing it. If I can balance those two things in my campaign then I'm sure it will be a success.
I'm sure the next three years are going to throw up plenty of challenges. But I've got a great support team at the RYA to help make sure we win gold in Rio. Rio is going to be a completely different venue to Weymouth so it's going to be fascinating learning about the tide and wind patterns out there and seeing what conditions we're likely to get. ISAF are currently experimenting with a number of race formats so it’s going to be interesting to see what format the racing does take and hopefully it won't become a lottery. But whatever the format and the wind I'll just have to learn and adapt better than my rivals.
Time to crack on!
British Sailing Team website