Ahead of the Paralympic Games, 2012 Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas talks about trying to write another place in the record books.
After 2012 a lot of people said to me “It does not get any better than this, does it?” A home Games and a gold medal – and they are absolutely right.
But what drives me and inspires me to carry on and compete in Rio is the chance of winning another gold medal and defending my title, which at the moment is something no Paralympic sailor in the 2.4mR class has managed to do.
For London we felt it all came together just at the right time, but there was still a lot more that we could do. We felt that we were not finished yet and there was more to come. Rio was another realistic gold medal opportunity.
And now here we are, about to embark upon the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. I think we have to accept that Rio is going to be very different and there will not necessarily be that huge support system that we felt with London. Obviously everyone will be watching back home, but when we are there and competing it will not be the same.
We are prepared for that and can accept that, and we are prepared for the tricky conditions that Rio can bring. We have a great and experienced team competing at the Paralympics and each one of the three boats has a great shot at the podium spots.
The standard of my class, the 2.4mR class, has always been high, but I think it has got even higher. It is now quite easy to make a couple of mistakes and find yourself back in eighth or ninth whereas in the past you could get away with making a couple of mistakes and still be fourth or fifth. From the results at the 2016 Worlds I think you could tell people were experiencing that.
I am really pleased with my kit right now and I think in most conditions I have got some really good speed, which is very useful and gets me out of trouble a few times. I also think I have the determination and attitude of never giving up. Every single point counts, and every boat you can pass counts. I think that was certainly my attitude for London 2012 and is what enabled me to win gold.
Focusing on taking one place at a time and working my way up through the fleet; I think that will be important in Rio as well.
In terms of my rivals, Heiko Kroeger and Damien Seguin have been on the scene for longer than I have and have always been up there competing for the medals. Matt Bugg, the Australian, is certainly somebody we need to keep an eye out for.
He has put in a really good performance over the last year or so, and Bjornar Erikstad from Norway is also someone to keep a bit of an eye on. He is a fantastic sailor.
Damien and Heiko are the usual two suspects that you always see at the top of the leaderboard, but Matt and Bjornar are more than capable of getting into the mix.
When I won my gold medal in London and was standing on the podium I think the first emotion was one of relief. Years and years of hard work go into it and finally you have achieved it. It took ages for it to sink in and it sort of felt like somebody else had won it.
Hopefully if I have the opportunity to stand on the top step again in Rio, having won it once before, it will feel quite different. It would be a very emotional moment for sure, especially as this is the last chance for Paralympic sailing to win medals until at least 2024.
It is certainly my last chance of winning a medal so I will be doing all I can.
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