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Joe Glanfield on the quest for Rio gold

by Lindsey Bell on 4 Mar 2013
Nick Rogers (R) and Joe Glanfield (L) of Great Britain celebrate finishing second placed overall following the Men’s 470 class medal race held at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center during day 10 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 18, 2008 in Qingdao, China. © Clive Mason
Sailor Joe Glanfield returns to competition – teaming with Luke Patience – on a quest for gold at the 2016 Rio Sailing Competition, discusses the campaign in his latest blog entry:

I guess the first question I need to answer is why have I come back to 470 sailing? It would be most interesting to say that two silver medals had left me with sleepless nights and deep regrets, and the only way to settle these is by winning gold in 2016, but this would not be true! I look back at the three Olympic Games I competed in (all with Nick Rogers) knowing we made mistakes and could have been better, but I also look back at them very fondly and am proud of what we achieved together.

I would put my desire to compete again down to three main factors. Firstly, I have spent a lot of time since 2008 visiting schools (on behalf of the Youth Sport Trust and 21st Century Legacy) and talking to pupils about their aspirations, working hard and pursuing their dreams. Whilst talking to them I realised I had fallen into the trap of taking for granted how lucky I was that I was able to do what I loved. Sailing and competing at the Olympics has always been my dream, I feel completely natural in that environment and realised campaigning towards 2016 was probably going to be my last opportunity. In some respects I guess it was the London Olympic legacy having an influence on me!

Secondly, since I stopped 470 sailing I have coached some of the world’s best sailors. I coached Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Sarah Ayton and past 49er World Champions Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes and learned things from all of them that I wish I had known when I was sailing. The coaching also helped me develop and try out my own theories on training and competing, and I really want to bring this new knowledge and perspective back to my 470 sailing. I am sure it can help me be a much better competitor then I ever was before.

The last influencing factor was the opportunity to step straight in with Luke [Patience]. With Luke I am getting a helm who knows how to make a 470 go fast and has already proved he can thrive in the pressure environment of a home Olympics. I believe sailors need to adapt and change and learn new things from different people in order to fulfil their potential. I am sure Luke and I have a lot to learn from each other - undoubtedly there will be teething problems, but in the long run these variations in methods and approaches will help us make new improvements as sailors.

Gold in Rio, of course, is mine and Luke’s ultimate goal. We both want to be gold medallists. I want to join that tiny list of British sailors who have won three Olympic medals and be the first 470 sailor to achieve that. That is the dream and if I allow it, it does keep me up at night.

For now though I am living a much more hand-to-mouth existence, just trying to get back into it. I have had to put a lot of effort into bringing my fitness levels up, as they had somewhat slid since I stopped competing in 2008! This has been through a combination of gym work and running/cycling to improve my aerobic fitness and start to lose weight. I have been working closely with the sports science team – particularly our Head of Sports Science Paul Mullan, physio Lily Devine and strength and conditioning coach Steve Gent – and it has been rewarding to see improvements. I often run and cycle the same routes around Exmouth and now a few months into training I can see times coming down and my routes needing to get longer. I feel like these early days of training are about treading a fine line – I need to make fitness improvements fast, but illness or injury at this stage would be a big setback. So far so good though, I am listening to my body and the experts, and things are movingly along nicely.

The most fun has been on the water. We have completed two training camps in Murcia, Spain, and Luke and I both felt they went really well. I was pretty rusty to start with (well I still am!). I even fell out of the boat, but we felt like we communicated well between us, and the roles in the boat were fairly obvious. Of course there are massive holes in our sailing and we are still yet to race but the important thing is we feel we can learn quickly together and we share a similar vision of how we want to improve and the team we want to become. Steve Lovegrove has been coaching the squad and is keeping us moving in the right direction. We don’t need to be the best in the world yet, we just need to know how we are going to get there!

It feels exciting to be sailing again, every training session has been enjoyable. I am really looking forward to our first proper strong wind sail – the kind where you are clinging on and just trying to get around the course with the mast still pointing upwards! Bring on the mistral in Hyeres!

Our first opportunity to race will be at a training regatta in Palma during March, which in turn will hopefully help us prepare for the World Cup events of Princess Sofia Trophy, also in Palma, and the Hyeres Regatta in April. We have no result expectations for these two events – we just want to use them as a benchmark for where we are against a world class fleet, and to give direction to our training whilst preparing for the European and World Championships this summer.

Luke and I have a very clear vision of the sailors we want to be by 2016 and the sort of campaign we need to run in order to get there. We have started the process of searching for sponsorship and suppliers to help us create this campaign.

For now, thanks to everyone who is helping us build momentum, next is more training (in Weymouth next week) then out to Palma for our first experience of racing together, very exciting! We will keep you PatienceGlanfield
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