Iain Percy: a Star is bornSubscribe
Rob Burgess 21 April 2001
SEVEN MONTHS ago Iain Percy assured himself of a place in British Olympic history, winning one of Team GB’s eleven Gold medals at the most successful Games of modern times.
Success brought inevitable distractions in the aftermath of Sydney – an endless stream of after-dinner speaking engagements and award ceremonies were a welcome change from the years of training and dedication that had put him on the podium.
But, as Percy told UK Sport, a sailor is happiest on the water and the time has come to focus on the next Olympic campaign: "Recently I’ve been feeling that I want to get back and have some direction again. Since the Olympics I haven’t been training for anything, and whether you’re training or you have a job that drives you, you need to know where you’re going.
"So I decided to get organised with the Star campaign - I’ve put the building blocks in place, I have a platform and am heading towards something I really want to achieve."
The Star class - a two-handed boat as opposed to the one-handed Finn - represents a change of direction for Percy: "I’m looking forward to it – it’s a fresh challenge. I didn’t want to sail the Finn again, and the great thing about sailing is that you can move into a new class - the skills are the same but there’s a whole new set of things to learn."
JOINING HIM in the Star is Chris Brittle, an undergraduate at Southampton University. David Howlett, Percy’s coach of the last Olympic campaign, will stay on and mastermind the new pairing’s challenge – an important boost for the Gold medallist who says that 90% of the success he’s had is down to Howlett.
Though the advent of Lottery funding, which Percy is a recipient of as a member of the RYA's World Class Performance Programme, has helped to relieve many of the financial burdens that once beset Great Britain’s elite athletes – "I suppose I count as a medal that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Lottery funding" Percy admits – the Hampshire-based sailor will still need to raise funds for the Star campaign to succeed, and he is hopeful that his new-found fame will assist in this task:
"Our equipment costs are very high, especially in the Star. I need to find a sponsor, or a number of sponsors, to support the campaign - hopefully the Olympic success I have had will make it more possible than it might have been otherwise."