Britain’s most decorated female Olympic athlete Dame Katherine Grainger visited the British Sailing Team in the home training base of Weymouth and Portland in her role as Chair of UK Sport during this week’s Podium squad camp (13 November).
Dame Katherine began her visit meeting sailors, coaches and support staff before taking to the water to watch Olympians, World Champions and rising stars in action training from Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
The London 2012 gold medallist then enjoyed a tour of the British Sailing Team’s world class facilities in Weymouth and Portland with RYA Director of Racing Ian Walker and Olympic Performance Manager Mark Robinson.
Ian Walker MBE commented: “It’s been a great opportunity to demonstrate all of our facilities here. We’ve had a full tour and she’s also been able to talk to the athletes and coaches and get direct feedback because UK Sport fund most of the activity within our World Class programme. It’s an honour to have Dame Katherine here.
“The support of UK Sport and the National Lottery is absolutely integral. You just have to look at the improvement in the Olympics over the last five cycles. We couldn’t do two thirds of what we do without that support and it has put Britain at the top of the rostrum.”
Having won the 49er World Championships earlier this year, Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell took advantage of the UK Sport Chair’s visit to launch their new skiff Naomi.
Asked what impact UK Sport funding had on their campaign, Fletcher explained: “The funding UK Sport provide the British Sailing Team ultimately allow the team to win medals and compete at the Olympic Games.
“Ever since the funding was introduced, the team has been the world’s most successful Olympic Sailing nation at every single Games. It is a critical factor in allowing us to achieve amazing success.
“It’s amazing having Dame Katherine here, she’s a real inspiration. Having her here pushing us on is awesome.”
The five-time Olympic medallist went afloat to watch World Champions Fletcher-Bithell in action, before stepping aboard the foiling Nacra 17 with Podium Potential Squad sailor Rupert White. Dame Katherine rounded off her Olympic sailing session trying her hand in the women’s 49er FX skiff alongside Charlotte Dobson and Tidey.
UK Sport Chair Dame Katherine Grainger said: “I very much enjoyed my visit to the British Sailing Team and it was fantastic to speak with the athletes and support staff in Weymouth.
“There is an impressive new leadership team now in place with Ian Walker and Mark Robinson who I am sure will build on the great work that took place during the Rio Cycle.
“I wish them the best of luck on their journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and it will be exciting to follow them over the coming years.”
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