Rising Star: Izzy Hamilton 

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Windsurfer Izzy Hamilton is one of Skandia Team GBR’s most promising young talents. Invited to join the Olympic Development Squad (ODS) last year aged 17, Hamilton will attend her third ISAF Youth World Championships from 8-17 July having taken ISAF Youth Worlds RS:X silver last year, which she then followed with gold at the RS:X Youth World Championships.

Izzy was voted ODS Sailor of the Year by her peers last November and recently landed silver at the RS:X Youth Europeans in Poland.

I’ve only been sailing the RS:X since 2007 so I never really thought I’d be in the Olympic Development Squad now. Being part of the ODS has already opened up some amazing opportunities to me even though I’ve not been able to do all the camps because of school. I’ve had access to loads of specialists helping me with fitness, tactics, meteorology and technical stuff, which has already made a big difference to me and helped me organise my campaign better.

It has been a big year as I’ve also sat my A-levels. I’ve really wanted to do well in my exams so I’ve had to balance my training with study. All the ODS and Youth Squad training we do is at Weymouth and Portland, which is good for me as it’s not too far from my home in Devon and over the winter I worked a lot on my fitness, which obviously I can do around school at home.

I’d really like to go to university and have applied to study geography at a couple but if my exam results are good enough and I’m offered a university place I may have to weigh up what my chances realistically are at having a shot at 2012 selection and decide whether to defer my place and sail full time. I’d love to have a go at 2012, not really because the Olympics are in England but just because it’s an Olympics that is on the horizon. I’d feel the same wherever the next Games were being held. I know I’ve come into the programme very late in the cycle and I’m not 100 per cent confident I’d be able to do it but I’ll be racing 100 percent at every opportunity to give it my best shot and am looking forward to being able to train and compete full-time over the summer to see how I go.

It is strange flipping between doing Youth events and senior Olympic Classes events because at the big regattas I’m used to sailing around the middle or towards the back of the fleet but then I sail a Youth event and am near the front again, which requires a totally different mindset and tactics. However both provide me with invaluable racing experience.

When I get back from the ISAF Youth Worlds, I’ll have a few days at home before I join the rest of the STGBR squad in training for Skandia Sail for Gold. Being around the RS:X training group is a real inspiration. It just highlights the difference between doing the sport as a hobby, which is effectively what I’ve done up till now, and it being your job and doing it every day.  All the sailors are always so well prepared, everyone seems so organised and are still so enthusiastic about windsurfing.

I’ve been really fortunate that over the past few years I’ve got to meet a lot of Olympic athletes from different sports and I love hearing everyone’s stories and seeing how different people go about things. I’m always asking myself how I’d do things differently or what bits I can take from certain people that would help me in my campaign.

Winning the class Youth Worlds in Turkey last year was probably the best result of my career so far but then I finished 21st at the RS:X senior Worlds at WPNSA a few weeks later and was really pleased with that as well. I’m looking forward to Skandia Sail for Gold and although I’d like to finish in the top 20 I’ll be treating it as any other regatta and there’s no identified outcome goal at the moment. We sail at Weymouth and Portland a lot so in terms of conditions there aren’t going to be any surprises so it’s just going to be about trying to sail to the best of my ability and seeing what happens.

I’d like to think I’ve got a realistic chance of another medal at the ISAF Youth Worlds in Turkey, and having won silver in Brazil last year I’d really like to come first this time. But last year I’d done a lot more training going into the ISAF Youth Worlds so a medal of any kind would be good. I was a bit disappointed to get silver at the Youth Europeans in Poland, and was really annoyed that I basically lost it on the last race, but given that I flew out two days after I’d finished my A-levels I’m maybe being a bit hard on myself. Either way a lot of the girls I’ll be competing against in Turkey raced in Poland so it was a really useful learning experience to see where everyone else in the fleet was at.