Our Olympic team: Niki Birrell

Niki Birrell

Niki Birrell

First published in Sport

THIS week’s Sail for Gold is our last big regatta before the Paralympics – obviously it’s an important regatta.

It’s important to learn stuff about the Games because all our key competitors are here.

It’s more important to learn from Sail for Gold than the overall result, although obviously we want to do well.

It’s perfect timing for us because we can run it exactly like the Paralympics and try and get a medal here.

Hopefully it will be good for our confidence – there’s nothing like sailing at the venue to tell you where you’re at for the Games.

The international teams will also be grateful for the opportunity to race at a big event at the 2012 venue but that’s not a huge concern of ours because we’re here all year around.

They’ll be using this as very key training for the Games.

We popped to America for a month or so and went to Hyeres but apart from that we’ve been based here, training in all weather conditions.

Our whole four-year cycle has been about how the Paralympics go in September.

It’s been a good four years: we’ve won all four World Championships but other teams have also been training really hard to beat us so we’re going to have to work really hard between now and the Paralympics to give ourselves a chance. Alex and I complement each other well – we both bring different skills and hopefully we’ve got all the boxes ticked.

It’s not just about sailing, the whole campaign is quite hard work, organising stuff both on and off the water. It will be a dream come true if we win gold at the Paralympics – we’re very lucky to have the opportunity to compete in the home Games.

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