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Paul Goodison at the helm

Whoever invented four o'clock in the morning is a chump.

That's what I'm thinking as the stupid, gnat-like shrill of my mobile phone alarm goes and I haul myself out of bed.

I'm in Cowes to compete in the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race on a boat skippered by Olympic Laser sailor Paul Goodison.

Continue reading "At the helm with an Olympic hopeful"

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Sailing slips under the radar of most sports fans in this country but it should come as no surprise that our island national has topped the medal table at the last two Olympics.

In fact, since Sydney in 2000, sailing has been Britain's most successful Olympic sport, which means the Team GB sailors heading to Beijing have a reputation to uphold.

All eyes will be on Ben Ainslie as he goes for a third straight Olympic gold and fourth Olympic medal (he also won silver in Atlanta) but the British team also abounds with World and European Championship medallists.

And British Olympic sailing manager Stephen Park has targeted four medals from the 18 sailors in 11 different classes competing in Beijing.

Continue reading "Sailors fly the flag for Britain"

Hello. My name is Rob Hodgetts and I'm an Olympic addict. I've known it for some time now and I try not to let it take over my life but sometimes it's just so hard.

My habit became full-blown when I worked at the 2000 Sydney Games. The highs were incredible and there appeared to be no downside, other than flying home.

I worked in a corporate hospitality capacity, in between journo jobs, and was tasked with looking after a small group of uber-rich American octogenarians.

My job was to escort them around the Games and make sure everything ran smoothly. This meant accompanying them to every venue and I got to see some great events and moments of sporting history.

One thing I did miss, though, was the rowing victory of Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Tim Foster in their coxless four.

We were on our way to the boxing and I stood transfixed at the front of the coach, ear glued to the radio. I began whispering, "Come on, come on" but as the race reached a climax, I reached a crescendo, forgetting I still had the live mic in my hand from delivering a quick speech about the day's itinerary.

"Yessssssss" I wailed when they crossed the line.

"What is that guy on?" asked one of the totally oblivious Americans, as I stood at the front with both arms aloft in salute.

"Five gold medals. For Steve Redgrave. That's amazing. He's a hero. Wow!"

"Well, that sure sounds great Ron [sic]. Now can you get me a paper - I gotta check our stock price."

Euphoria quickly spread through the British contingent in Sydney that day, like a particularly virulent airborne virus. And the beep of a text message from a friend at a different venue to alert us of another British medal became a fix that we just couldn't live without.

For Athens and now Beijing, my Olympic base is sunny Shepherd's Bush, which though dissimilar to Sydney in so many ways, does at least begin with the same letter.

I'll be glued to all of it of course, because I just can't give it up, but I'll have a special interest in the sailing.

The GB team won five medals in Sydney and five in Athens and sailing is Britain's most successful Olympic sport.

Ben Ainslie goes for a third straight gold, and that would put him ahead of Cracknell and one behind Pinsent. And he's a national treasure.

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