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16 October 2014
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Ian Barker

Sailor, Olympic Silver Medallist

I did an Engineering degree at UWIC, Cardiff and then took a job as a sailmaker which enabled me to continue to sail and be paid! I then set up my own company selling sails but competing full-time meant I couldn’t work and train as well. I am now Lottery funded which helps a great deal.

The job:
Sailing takes a lot of work; there is a lot of equipment involved. Until the last Olympics, I had three boats to maintain which is like maintaining a team. I spend a couple of hours rigging the boat and there is regular maintenance to do. Then we have a training briefing and spend about five hours on the water. I do exercises and boat tuning, normally with a coach. After coming in, I have to check the boat - which takes an hour or two - and then there is a debriefing. It generally takes from 10am to about 7pm. We go to the gym to train three times a week. One of the dinghies I sail is a '49er' class, which takes a team of two: I drive and do tactics and my focus is on balance and agility, whereas Simon, the crew, does the hard work and so has to be fit and strong. General stamina is very important.

Big break:
I’ve been sailing and competing since I was 16 and never considered an Olympic campaign as I didn’t have funding. I won the World Championship while working for the sailmaker. Then, with funding, I was able to start the Olympic campaign which costs a lot of money and needs to be properly funded. Teams like the Americans, Italians and Spanish are well-funded.

I’ve won two World Championships in the Enterprise and 505 classes, which were great. Obviously, winning the Olympic silver medal was very special. Planning a campaign takes a lot of time - five years of practice to win the World Championship in the Enterprise. The 505 was a struggle and tough to win! The Olympics is three and a half years of hard work; because it only happens every four years, the pressure is on.

I don’t have many lows! In one World Championship, I was hoping to win and had a disastrous event and was so disappointed. I have to say, I’ve been lucky.

Tips from the top:
Practise! It’s doing something you enjoy that’s great. If you realise that you’re good at it, practise and work hard. Understand the sport and work on the technical points but above all, enjoy it!

Cymraeg (Welsh)

Also see...
Adam Palfrey
Cyril the Swan
Delyth Morgan
Gabby Yorath
Ian Barker
Joe Calzaghe

Mark Hughes
Matthew Stevens
Miles Orchard
Nathan Blake
Nicky Grist

Tanni Grey Thompson


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