#EveryRoadtoRio Blogs: Bryony Shaw

Published 27 April 2016

Windsurfer Bryony Shaw competed at London 2012 and claimed a bronze medal at Beijing 2008. Now the world number one, she explains hows how the tide is turning in her favour.


HITTING GOOD FORM

It’s 100 days to go until the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony, and I’m in the south of France ready for my next competition, the Sailing World Cup Hyères, starting today.

This is one of the last major hits in terms of international competitions both for those going to the Games, and also for those not going to the Games.  It’s a huge focus and is one of the main events in the year that everyone can still say is extremely high quality and very competitive. Those who want to know how they’re faring against the best in the world will come here and try and be in the best shape possible.

I don’t tend to count how many days there are to go until the start of the Olympic competition, but I certainly look at what regattas I’ve got to focus on, what training sessions I’ve got, how many trips to Rio still remain, what I need to have in place equipment-wise, and how much I need to prepare my racing body. You want to go in fresh, but you want to feel prepared as well so there’s always a balance to be found.

I’ve been enjoying a good run of form recently.  Currently I am the RS:X European Champion, world-ranked number one and have won silver medals at the last two World Championships. It’s great that my recent results have been reflecting my efforts and I feel like I am in a good place.

MARGINAL GAINS

I really feel that every day I go out on the water it’s about achieving a quality goal.  Aged 32, some people talk about it maybe being my last Games, but actually I still feel young, and I feel that I’m still learning.  Even though you might say I’m ‘experienced’ coming up to my third Olympic Games, there’s still stuff to keep me moving forward.  

That’s what keeps me motivated, still knowing there are lots of little gains to be made, and with the variability of our sport there’s always a day that throws something new into the mix.

The team around me is really important in helping eke out all those little areas for improvement.  For example from my coach, Barrie Edgington, it’s having those eyes out and keeping a watch on what’s moving in what directions in terms of techniques, equipment set up and so on, and our head physiologist, Paul Mullan, is out there as a scientist, knowing what’s at the forefront of elite sport in terms of any health and fitness gains there may be.

There’s so much in an Olympic sailing campaign that you could be looking at doing, or doing differently, or changing, and the team around me helps to recognise what’s important and what’s less important.  But at the end of the day it’s up to me to manage my campaign and either implement those things, or say they’re not for me.


FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS

I’ve been out to Rio many times now, and spending quality time in the venue is a key focus for all the British Sailing Team members who’ll be competing for Team GB or ParalympicsGB this summer.  

On my first trip out to Rio, I just found it absolutely stunning. The way the landscape is and the culture out there – it was a really exciting place to be.  You’re windsurfing underneath Sugar Loaf and with Christ the Redeemer looking down on you – it was quite magical.   

While it is still undoubtedly beautiful, that romance of the first trip turns in to making sure you don’t get thrown too many curveballs in what is a very challenging venue to sail in. Spending more quality training and racing time out in Rio is critical for us, so you get used to what it takes to stay healthy and fit and be prepared for all the different conditions and race course areas inside or outside Guanabara Bay, which are just so different in their characteristics. Spending time on those is critical and you can’t do enough of it.  

The more time you do in Rio, because it is so unique, the more prepared you will feel and I want to feel best prepared come the start of the Olympic regatta this summer.

Bryony Shaw is one of 1,300 athletes supported by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme.

Follow Bryony further on her road to Rio on Twitter @BryonyShaw

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