Gold at the final hurdle before Rio

Image: onEdition

Image: onEdition

The British Sailing Team’s Nacra 17 sailor Nicola Groves tells of turning a dream into reality as the final Rio countdown is underway

To finish our last regatta before the Olympic Games on the top step of the podium was a fantastic feeling for Ben [Saxton] and I.

The Sailing World Cup in Weymouth and Portland gave us a great boost heading in to the final weeks of training for Rio. Ben and I sailed well throughout the week and managed to convert our lead going into the medal race into a gold medal at the end of it.
The World Cup fleet was really tough and the result shows we can compete with the world’s best. We are serious contenders. We are not the only ones; there is a handful of us.

We will work unbelievably hard with the time we have left and will start the Games confident that we have done all we can to get us in the best place to challenge for the medals.

DREAMS COME TRUE
I am so excited and proud to be representing Team GB in Rio. It has always been a dream of mine to go to the Olympics but I did not think I ever thought it would actually happen.
Four years ago I was working in an advertising agency in London. I was the intermediary between the clients and the creative team. It was a great job for me as I am quite an organised person and a people person.

Even so, the move to go sailing when the 49erFX and Nacra 17 were brought in is something that I will never, ever regret. By that time I was 22 or so, I thought my opportunity had gone, but for it to then present itself. I thought “if I work at this I can get there”. I did not think it could be a reality but I managed to make it one.
One of the scariest moments of my life was when I finally handed in my notice at work and was like ‘right I am going to do this’. I quit my perfectly good job, which I liked, and went full time sailing for the love of it.

Sailing is my passion and to be able to do my passion and my hobby as a full time occupation and put everything I possibly can towards it was an unbelievably big move. I will not ever regret it.

Image: Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy

Image: Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy

BEST PERFORMANCE
I watched everybody in 2012 unbelievably excited both on and off the water. I just remember being on cloud nine for the majority of it and I was not even competing.

I do not quite know what it is going to be like competing myself, but it will be great fun to be part of it, be part of the team and the atmosphere out there in Rio is going to be amazing.
While I am really looking forward to Rio, at the same time we have got to remember it is ‘just’ racing. We go racing every day. Ben and I have been doing it together for two years and throughout our whole lives.

Although it is the Olympic Games and everything is going on onshore and it gets all crazy, when the countdown hits the five minutes to the start we have just got to do what we do, do what we are good at, which is why we are there. That is what we have got to remember and keep in the back of our minds.
I think if I could sail my absolute best and give it everything, going through the whole regatta knowing that I could not have done any more, then I will be very happy with my performance whatever happens.
Ben and I would love to come away with a medal, and it is possible, but if we can do everything we can – the bits that you think are the most important – and come away from the regatta knowing that we sailed the way we wanted to sail it and did not get forced into the mind spin “oh I cannot do it” or “it is too complicated”, then I will be happy with that.
I blubbed at the TV for all the podium ceremonies in 2012, so I warn you now, if I make it there in Rio it will be a very emotional experience!
The National Lottery-funded British Sailing Team is proudly supported by official partners Volvo Car UK, Zhik and Peters & May. Follow the team’s latest news and updates at britishsailingteam.com or on Twitter @BritishSailing