Team GBR ready to tackle pre-Olympics

One year to go to the 'real thing' as Olympians try out the sailing venue at test event

Tuesday August 19th 2003, Author: Sasha Oswald, Location: Mediterranean
Just less than a year out from the 2004 Olympic Games, 410 sailors, including Team GBR Olympic gold medallists Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Shirley Robertson, are lining up to test the Olympic sailing waters in Athens.

Sailing has been the only sport to test the Olympic sailing venue on two separate occasions, whilst many other Olympic sports events have been cancelled due to delayed building schedules. The sailing venue for 2003 is in good shape, it is twice the size of the venue last year and although building work is still ongoing, you can guarantee that by the time it is finished it will be a fantastic venue for the 2004 Olympic Games.

Although the main focus for the Team GBR sailing athletes is the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Cadiz this September, which forms part of the 2004 Olympic selection process, they will still be looking to continue their early season success at this event.

Between the three Olympic gold medallists, two of them are the current world champions in their class. Ben Ainslie, who swapped his Laser for the bigger Finn class dinghy after Sydney, recently defended his European title and will be looking to repeat his gold medal success from the Athens Test Event last year.

Fellow Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, who also swapped classes after Sydney - teaming up with Steve Mitchell, has taken the Star class by storm, winning the world championships within six months of sailing the boat and since then a host of other international titles.

Sydney team mate Shirley Robertson followed suit and cashed in her single-handed Europe dinghy for the three person Yngling that will debut in Athens. Last year Robertson won bronze at the Athens Test Event, and along with her team of Sarah Ayton and new team mate Sarah Webb, will be looking to go one better by the time the weeks out.

RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented, "Although this is a test event and there are sure to be organisational hiccups and changes for 2004, our team are well prepared and focussed on results this week. There is no doubt that it is an exciting time
for Olympic sailing."

The 2003 Pre-Olympic Sailing Team is as follows:

Finn - Ben Ainslie
Star - Iain Percy/Steve Mitchell
Yngling - Shirley Robertson/Sarah Webb/Sarah Ayton
49er - Paul Brotherton/Mark Asquith
Laser - Paul Goodison
Europe - Andrea Brewster
Tornado - Leigh McMillan/Mark Bulkeley
470 Men - Nick Rogers/Joe Glanfield
470 Women - Christina Bassadone/Katherine Hopson
Mistral Men - Nick Dempsey
Mistral Women - Natasha Sturges

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