Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Brainbox unicyclist Young tees up Olympic medal

Alison Young left an impression when she said bluntly on the eve of her first Olympic Games that she did not get out of bed every morning to come last.

The Laser Radial contender had already made an impression locally in Portland after being seen on a unicycle pedalling furiously up the hill and is now on track to leave her mark with a performance that could be the talk of Team GB if the determination that has marked her out as a female Ben Ainslie, lands her an Olympic  medal at her first attempt.

Young, a brainy 25 year old engineering graduate from Worcester, was one of the last selections to be made in the sailing squad after a straight battle with Charlotte Dobson who until the ISAF World Championships last year was favourite. 

Reports of how hard Young was working on her fitness and how fixated she was on success started to filter through which started to show in her a steady improvement in results culminating in her selection in May then a confident show at Sail for Gold a couple of weeks later where she promptly won gold. 

At that point, another Olympic medal possibility was added to the British list yet due to her lack of experience in top level racing, more through hope than conviction. 
That all changed on Monday when her first two races produced two top ten results which she reckoned was a reasonable start then she followed it up on Tuesday with two second places, giving Annalise Murphy from Ireland a run for her money, to lie fourth overall.

If anyone expected an excited reaction from Young to that performance, they were in for a big disappointment as the 6’ powerhouse, who is as shy and awkward as Ainslie was when he started out on his Olympic career, brushed aside any fancy talk.

“It could have been better,” she said simply.

“But I’m pretty pleased and gives me a solid platform for the rest of the regatta. My starts were better today which made life easier and hopefully I can continue to improve for the rest of the week. I am just focussing on the racing. If I thought about this being the Olympics, it would probably blow my head up.”

The results in the Laser Radials so far demonstrate a slight changing of the guard in the class after being dominated over the past two years by Evi Van Acker of Belgium and Marit Bouwmeister from the Nederlands.

Van Acker is in second place overall while Bouwmeister, who is Ainslie’s girlfriend, is currently in third, 14 points behind Murphy who has won every race so far. There is a long way to go but Young’s teammates and coaches, who know the full extent of her focus, strength and resolve have their money on a medal.

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