UNICYCLING Portland sailor Ali Young has enjoyed a ‘whirlwind’ few months since achieving selection for Team GB.
The 25-year-old, who grew up Sailing ‘on a puddle in the Midlands’ put in a stellar performance at last month’s Skandia Sail for Gold regatta to claim her first victory in the senior world cup circuit.
Young, who lives in Fortuneswell, continued to shine on land, meeting Princess Anne at the Skandia Sail for Gold Ball, the official send-off for the British sailing team.
Team Volvo and Skandia Team GBR member Young said: “It’s almost impossible to put into words the whirlwind that has been the past month.
“In terms of my training not much has actually changed since my selection.
“My training was always focused on winning a medal, not on getting selected, so that focus has just continued.
“The Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta really brought it all home though.
“I’ve been part of the Skandia Team GBR British sailing team set-up for over five years now but, for the selected sailors, Sail for Gold acted as a complete run-through of what we could expect from the Olympics.
“We stayed, ate and socialised together in the team camp and supported each other and it was a whole new level to anything I’d ever known.”
Young was impressed by the attention to detail by the British support team, who greeted the athletes with hot food as they came off the water, something that was ‘very, very welcome’ after racing in last month’s extreme winds and rain.
She added: “The gold medal was a really good confidence boost at the Olympic venue so close to the Games.”
Young described the Sail for Gold Ball at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, London as ‘completely surreal’ and ‘amazing’ and said it was ‘quite humbling’ to see so many sponsors and supporters of the team all in one place.
She added: “You can see how much it means to them for us to do well too and the whole atmosphere was very encouraging.
“I went away feeling even more excited about being part of this amazing team.”
Young grew up in Bewdley, Worcestershire, and got into sailing through dad Keith.
She said: “My dad had always wanted to do sailing so my mum got him some lessons for his birthday when me and my sister were young and we just got into it from there.
“I started in a little Optimist dinghy on a little puddle up in the Midlands where I grew up.
“My dad put in a lot of effort driving me around the country to go sailing and it kind of snowballed from there really.”
Young shot to prominence when she achieved bronze in the Laser Radial at the 2005 ISAF Youth Worlds.
A Civil Engineering graduate from Southampton University, Young claimed her first senior medal – bronze – at the 2010 Miami World Cup Regatta.
After a tough battle for selection with Weymouth’s Charlotte Dobson, a personal best of fourth place at the Laser Radial World Championships in May 2012 secured Young the nod from RYA selectors.
The announcement was made on Young’s 25th birthday and the British Olympic sailing team sang Happy Birthday to her.
Young, who is coached by Weymouth’s former Olympic catamaran sailor Hugh Styles, is becoming well known around the island for her unusual mode of transport – and her super fitness that enables her to do it so effortlessly.
She said: “I’ve got a unicycle I like to ride around on.
“I got it on eBay for about £30 two years ago and learned to do it down by Quiddles cafe.
“It’s good for the core and beats walking anywhere. I can get down from Fortuneswell, it’s a little but sketchy but I’ve not fallen off yet. I do a good wheely.”
Every moment now counts for training.
Young added: “It’s really good to be part of such a really strong team.
“It’s pretty cool when you’re going to the gym and you’ve got Olympic gold medallists in there and you see how hard they’re working. That’s pretty inspiring.”
For the past week, Young and her teammates have been based at Weymouth Sailing Club while the Olympic venue prepared for lockdown, and from Monday they can move into their team accommodation at RYA Portland House, Osprey Quay.
Young said: “You can really feel how Weymouth and Portland is becoming an Olympic venue now, with all the security fences up and most of the infrastructure in place, and you can’t help but feed off that buzz.
“But once you’re on the water nothing is different.
“However exciting the Olympics are going to be, it’s still just racing around a set of marks in Weymouth Bay.”
She added: “I think after the Games I’ll stay in Weymouth and Portland, I like the area.
“It’s a nice, relaxed place and perfect for sailing. I enjoy living down here.
“After London 2012, I’ll probably stay in the Radial.
“There are some new classes coming in with the mixed cat and women’s skiff but I enjoy the Laser Radial.
“It’s a one-design boat so you get close, tactical racing and in a breeze you get the physical challenge as well.”