Sailing coach gets taste of Olympics - four years early

A CHICHESTER sailing coach preparing young athletes for Rio 2016 Olympics has been rewarded with his own special experience of the London Games.

Harvey Hillary, 35, a British Sailing instructor, was one of 56 coaches picked from across the country to join the British Olympic Association’s Team GB Olympic Ambition Programme.

The programme, supported by London 2012 partner Lloyds TSB, will give 130 young and talented British athletes and coaches a unique opportunity to experience the Olympics this summer.

They will visit the Olympic village, watch two Olympic competition sessions and experience the atmosphere at the Team GB House in Westfield Stratford City.

The programme focuses on preparing the athletes and coaches to compete at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics or Rio 2016.

It aims to provide personal development and inspiration to the participants and produce a performance legacy for Team GB from London 2012.

“The message I hope got across to the athletes was that going to the Olympics is not just about turning up,” said Hillary.

“It is about doing as much as you can beforehand to be able to turn up and give a gold medal winning performance.

“The Olympic Games will be different to anything that our athletes would have attended.

“This is a significant time of change for a lot of them.

“They are all facing similar challenges but I think that message got across.

“They will get first-hand experience of the Olympics and will be able to watch the athletes up close. It will be a great opportunity for them to learn as much as possible.

“It is all about bridging the gap between where they are now and where they want to be in four years time.

“The athletes I took down today have a lot of potential for Rio 2016 and the experience will help inspire them through their transition into potential Olympic athletes.”

They visited Team GB’s Preparation Camp at Loughborough University this week, taking part in kitting out and experiencing a multi-sport preparation environment.

“It was a privilege to be included in the Ambitions Programme,” Hillary added. “Not many coaches were chosen so it was nice.

“I got a lot out of it and we’re going to run our own version of the programme for those who weren’t selected for the programme.

“I’m looking forward to getting up close to the Olympics.”

Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more go to www.skandiateamgbr.com

MATT STOTT