Two-time World Champion Nick Thompson says he has his eye on the long game towards Tokyo 2020 as he embarks on a title defence on Croatian waters this week (14-19 September).
The 31-year-old will be one of eight British Sailing Team athletes in the 148-strong fleet at Split where he will be aiming to complete a hattrick of world golds, having won back to back world crowns in 2015 and 2016.
Thompson admits his previous World Championship victories provided a huge boost to his confidence heading into the Rio Olympics - but having missed out at the main event itself, he's started this new Games cycle determined to ring the changes.
"Winning the first world title was huge for me, I had previously taken two bronze and two silver medals so to take the step up was massively rewarding," Thompson reflected.
"To then take the title again the following year really cemented my confidence and that has been with me since."
"The year for me post-Games has been about making changes, I have been trying to break my sailing down and get a good grasp on where improvements can be made," explained the Ringwood-based sailor. "Ultimately the last campaign went well with two World championship titles but falling short in Rio shows there is much more to be had.
"This World Championship is clearly about defending my title but I'm under no illusions that when you try to make changes the result doesn't always come immediately, so I have to think long term."
"Preparations for this world title have mostly been about the bigger picture of the Tokyo Olympics, but the nature of that is that I'm spending lots of time on the water so that should also see me well for this Worlds," Thompson added.
Among the British Sailing Team contingent in Split are Delta Lloyd Regatta winner Elliot Hanson, Miami World Cup bronze medallist Lorenzo Chiavarini and u21 World and European bronze medallist Dan Whiteley, and Thompson is enjoying both the pressure and the support of a strong British squad.
"The British Sailing Team Laser squad is in a good place, it's been a while since we had some good depth with Goody and I having to spend most of our time training elsewhere. This depth has meant that I always have a solid squad to train with.
"If you combine the squad then we have most bases covered, so on any given day there is someone going very fast and making the right calls tactically. That is great to push you in training."
Thompson is expecting a close battle from a perennially tough international fleet, which includes Rio gold and silver medallists Tom Burton (AUS) and the host's Tonci Stipanovic, plus Cyprus's 2012 silver medallist Pavlos Kontides.
"There are plenty of people that could take the title if they bring their 'A' game all week. It's been fascinating to see how the fleet has kept nearly all its depth in the post Olympics year," he observed.
British Sailing Team line-up for the 2017 Laser World Championship:
Racing will get underway on Thursday 14 September, with two races scheduled per day up to and including the final day on Tuesday 19 September.
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