Match Race Girls Inspired By Team Track Record
Poole’s Olympic Women’s Match Racing trio will look to capitalise on the momentum of being part of Britain’s tight-knit sailing team when they get their bid for London 2012 glory underway on Sunday (29 July).
Sisters Lucy and Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush all make their Olympic debuts at the Weymouth and Portland regatta, three of seven newcomers to the 16-strong British sailing team for London 2012.
Britain has been the top performing nation at the past three Olympics, winning 16 medals – nine golds, four silvers and three bronze – in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.
And the girls, the 2010 ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Champions, are convinced that being around people who have been there, done it and won the medals on the biggest stage of them all can only serve to keep them focussed on their goal of Olympic gold.
Lucy, 25, said: “Everyone’s looking forward to competing and we know we’re a strong team but I don’t think anyone’s complacent about it. Everyone knows we’ve got to keep pushing to make sure we remain the top sailing nation in the world and to be a part of that is awesome. I think momentum helps the team a lot, if you’re winning lots you get that much more confident and you start really believing you can pull off anything.”
Annie, 32, continues: “It’s amazing but it is a double-edged sword because you can believe that just because you’re part of the team that therefore you should win, and that’s not true. When we’re out there it’s just the three of us and we’ve got to do the job ourselves. It is amazing to have Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy, a lot of the guys that have experienced so much before around, and they are a massive help. But it is the three of us and our coach, Maurice who’ve got to go and do the job and I think it’s important that we remember that.”
At 21 Kate is the youngest member of the British sailing team for London 2012 and only started sailing with Lucy and Annie full-time at the start of 2011, deferring her studies at Southampton Solent University to concentrate on Olympic campaigning.
She was just five when the team’s figurehead Ainslie, who is going for his fourth consecutive Olympic title at London 2012, won his first Olympic medal, a silver at Atlanta 1996.
Now she is just trying to absorb as much experience from Ben and the other ‘elder statesmen’ of the team to ensure that, although the Olympic is the biggest sailing competition any of them have ever experienced, the girls treat the event like any other.
Kate said: “It’s great to be around people like Ben Ainslie. It’s an amazing experience to try and learn as much as possible off them. When Ben won his first medal, I don’t think I even realised the Olympic Games existed!
“Even three years ago I never would have thought I’d be going to the 2012 Games. Ben’s just got a talent that no-one else has got, he’s just so committed and I don’t think anyone could describe him in a horrible way, he’s just incredible and I think he’s one of the best sports people ever. To be in a team with him, I can’t really describe how amazing it is.”
Women’s Match Racing is a new discipline for London 2012, taking place in Elliott 6m keelboats. Match racing sees two identical boats racing against each other in a series of one-on-one duels, progressing through round robin and knockout phases before the top two boats fight it out for the gold and silver medals. There are 12 nations contesting the event.
As a result the match racers are in action on more days than any other class and are not only the first class to start but the last class to finish, the match racing final bringing the curtain down on the 2012 Olympic Regatta on Saturday 11 August.
Lucy wouldn’t have it any other way. She concludes: “You’re against another team and it’s all about beating those three other people rather than beating 30 other boats on the racecourse. You can only win in match racing, there’s no second place so you’ve just got to go out and win that race and that will take you through the rounds. I love that intensity.”
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