On the 22nd August 2007 Bryony Shaw won GOLD at the Pre-Olympics in QuigDao, China. It's less than 12 months to go before the Olympics starts so this was a major boost for our Boardseeker columnist. We just had to find out how she did it!
Bryony taking Gold medal!
What were the conditions like and were they what you expected?
It was generally light winds (typical of QingDao) and some days were even too light to race so that meant long days and a very frustrating week. The second day, however, produced clear blue skies and a fresh max of 8.5 knots, which we have come to realize is a decent breeze for this venue. Also the medal race was held in a good 14 knots, which surprised a few people and knocked the light wind specialists off the podium.
What made you win?!
I think what helped me come out on top was my preparation for the event. We were the first team to arrive at the venue, twenty days before the racing started, which gave me a great chance to learn the various conditions that could occur during the competition as well as that tide! The tide in QuigDao really affected your strategy for the race according to where it was strongest or weakest to simply just the way you needed to round the buoys or be careful not be pushed over the start line.
I had decent physical preparation too. I concentrated on training hard on the water and in the gym, but made sure I had good recovery and nutrition. I worked hard to loose weight for the light wind conditions and went from 60 to 57 kilos, which I really noticed helped my speed when racing.
Being confident of all this good preparation and having done the competition last year, I knew what to expect: long hot days and frustratingly few races. With the amazing support that you get being in Skandia Team GBR I could not have been in a better position to do well.
Who do you consider your biggest threats at the Games next year?
My biggest threats are certainly the French 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, Faustine Merret who won this event last year and was the only girl to put me into second place during the regatta. I would certainly place the Italian 2000 Olympic Gold Medalist, Alessandra Sensini on the podium and with her experience and confidence she could be one to watch for the Gold next year.
Following on from that, will the local Chinese sailors be a big threat in 2008?
The Chinese girl finished fifth this year but she was constantly a threat during the light wind races. She is a good one to follow if you are a little unsure which way to go upwind and then over take her on the downwind!!
How did it differ from a normal RS:X competition having only ONE representative from each country giving smaller fleets? Was the atmosphere different?
The event was a complete copy of what will happen next year. The same 21 girls will be there, but in better physical condition and a year wiser. On the World Tour the start line tends to have 40 or 50 girls and in the bigger competitions like the Worlds the 80-strong fleet will be split in two. So with less girls on the start line it is more crucial to try to get the best start.
The atmosphere is no less friendly, in fact with all the dinghy sailors there too the boat park is pretty lively. The difference is that you stay a lot closer as a British Team and experiencing that support is unique to the Olympics.
Does winning this event put more or less pressure on you to WIN at the Games?
There will be a lot of pressure at the Olympics whatever, but what this has shown is that I can win at this unique venue. It has given me the confidence that my preparation for this year worked well, but I am very aware that a massive step up is essential to win again. What is important is to keep motivated and make sure the training and competing is fun.
Finally, does this win effect your funding for the next 12 months?
This win puts me onto A funding, which will be a good help for the coming year. This is good financial security for me because the funding will last for two years as long as I maintain a similar level.
Well done Bryony and we look forward to following your progress over the next 12 months!
Pre-Olympic Results from Quigdao
||Bryony Shaw (GBR)
||Alessandra Sensini (ITA)
||Jessica Crisp (AUS)
||Tom Ashley (NZL)
||Yuan Guo Zhou (CHN)
||Julien Bontemps (FRA)
||Nick Dempsey (GBR)