The pressure of competing on the biggest stage of all holds no fear for Alain Sign as he prepares to get his Olympic gold medal mission underway in Brazil today.
It’s going to be a monumental task for the Lee-on-the-Solent sailor and his 49er skiff class partner Dylan Fletcher as they go for glory.
But after winning a relentless selection battle that went to the wire for the one British 49er berth for Rio, Sign believes the pair are well equipped to handle the heat of Olympic battle.
He said: ‘We had quite a bit of pressure through the selection process so we see this as another opportunity to go and perform.
‘Yes it probably is going to be a bit of heightened pressure, but through the work we’ve done in the last six months we’re pretty happy with how we can deal with that.’
For Sign the dream is to stand on top of the podium alongside his close friend after a decade of hard work to get there.
He added: ‘A gold medal would be amazing, especially with my best friend.
‘To be able to pat him on the back and say, “We’ve done this,” it would be awesome.
‘The 10 years we’ve been working together, even through when I was a young kid, wanting to stand on that Olympic podium with the National Anthem going, it would be a really emotional experience.’
The 49er class is scheduled to contest a 13 race series, with three races per day, starting today and continuing tomorrow, then Monday and Tuesday, before the final one off medal race on Thursday.
Sign and Fletcher will have to halt the dominance of London 2012 silver medallists, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, from New Zealand, and defending Olympic champions, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, of Australia.
The Kiwis are favourites after being in great form since London but the GB duo are relishing conditions in Rio.
Fletcher said: ‘To be successful we’re going to have to be fast.
‘Boat speed wins medals, and that’s something we’ve spent most of our effort on in the past year.
‘We’ve spent a lot of time in Rio and I really like it, it plays to our strengths.
‘We’re better in smaller fleets, with shifty conditions, a bit of tide, great.
‘It’s definitely one of our strongest venues.
‘In sailing it’s hard to base your performance on your result and ultimately if we have a good performance and feel like we’ve done everything we can I’ll be vaguely happy.
‘But if we’ve got a medal, especially a gold one, I’ll be really, really happy.
‘It’s impossible to put into words the desire there is to win a gold medal.
‘I think we’re one of the few teams that can beat the Kiwis and we’ve known that all cycle.
‘We’re one of the only teams that has come close to them, we maybe even rattled them, so hopefully their purple streak’s going to come to an end.’