Ben Saxton can’t wait to get started after being confirmed as part of Team GB’s Olympic sailing squad for this summer’s Rio Olympic Games.
Itchenor sailing club member Saxton has finally been assured of his place alongside partner Nicole Groves in the inaugral Nacra 17 mixed multihull event, despite being overlooked for the Rio test event.
The 25-year-old is undestandably excited by the prospect of competing on the biggest stage of all in Brazil.
But humble Saxton insists he is also eager to cheer his Team GB comrades on as well, when he is not on the water.
‘I am pretty excited to do two things towards the Games,’ he said.
‘One is to get a medal for Nicola and I – the other is to support the rest of the sailing team as much as possible.’
It is clear that Saxton and Groves are not there to make up the numbers.
In October they won a European Championship gold medal, which added to their World Cup silver medal back in January 2015.
Groves, originally from Surbiton, shares the same excitement, with a hint of nervousness.
‘I was unbelievably excited to get the call saying we’d been selected,’ she said.
‘I’m now slightly daunted at what we have got to do, but I am looking forward to the challenge.’
Sailing is a sport that Team GB has traditionally done very well in over the years.
Since it was introduced at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, Team GB have topped the overall medal table, with 55 medals, 26 of which have been gold.
There’s plenty of wise heads to help guide the pair through their inaugural Games.
And Saxton believes the blend of young blood and experience is crucial.
‘A lot of our foreign competitors are envious of what we have got,’ he said.
‘But we’ve got a good mix, with the likes of Nick Dempsey and all of his Olympic experience as well as some youth and enthusiasm.’
Dempsey is a double world champion and will be competing in his fifth Olympic Games, already holding a bronze and silver medal.
Winning gold in Brazil will see him become the most successful windsurfer in Olympic history.
The sailing gala starts on August 8 on Marina da Gloria.
– MACAULAY DALEY