Ian Walker's Olympic Diary - 1st September

In the run-up to the Olympics, British Star sailor, Ian Walker, writes from Sydney for madforsailing.com
I vividly remember walking into the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, as a member of the British Olympic Team. I think that perhaps I remember it more than any other day of my life. I also remember the feeling of achievement and pride at standing on the Olympic Medal podium, with a medal around my neck - even if it wasn't gold. These images and memories drive me to want more. Olympic sailing is a great lifestyle, but it demands many sacrifices. What justifies those sacrifices? At the Olympics every four years, sailors get the chance to be seen on the world stage alongside the planet's greatest sportsmen and women. An Olympic Gold medal is an Olympic Gold medal - whatever the sport. It is the highest accolade a sportsman can get, and it has been my ambition since I first bought a 470 dinghy 12 years ago. In 23 days time we will start battling it out in Sydney with 16 other very competitive teams to try to earn that honour. We have been in Sydney for three weeks now, and it has been fun to see the excitement grow in the host city. Every news piece has some Olympic story such as the Olympic Flame Procession or the painting of the marathon course on the streets. But now, Sydney is unquestionably ready. The local people are great and the organisers have done a fabulous job. I have no doubt that Sydney 2000 will be the most successful Olympic Games ever. And for sailing it could be even more special. The harbour provides a sensational backdrop for sailing, along with many difficult challenges. Since we have been here, the wind has almost always been from the west. That means it is gusty and shifty as it passes over many high obstacles on the land