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Olympic sailing: Britain’s Hanson going for Laser gold in Poland

Olympic sailing

Team GB sailor Elliot Hanson says he is aiming to end 2020 on a high with a gold medal at tis week’s Laser European Championships.

Hanson (above), Britain’s pick for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, last month marked his return to international competition following a six-month break with a silver medal at Kiel Week.

The 26-year-old from Macclesfield, Cheshire, is now aiming to go one better when action resumes in Gdansk, Poland, today (Thursday October 8).

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“The Euros is going to be the biggest regatta since our Worlds in Melbourne in February, and one of only three events that’s happened this year due to the global pandemic,” said Hanson.

“Gdansk will offer different conditions to those in Tokyo, which has been the focus since being selected, but I’m really fired up to finish this year on a high and aim to win every event.

“Kiel showed we were on the right path, so I’m excited for the step up that the Euros has to offer.”

Olympic sailing
Image © Kieler Woche

Lining up against Hanson in the 136-boat ILCA 7 (formerly Laser Standard) fleet is fellow Brit Michael Beckett (above), Hanson’s Tokyo 2020 training partner and bronze medallist in Kiel last month.

“I’m really excited about this event, it really looks like sailors from all across Europe are able to come to the event so it should be fantastic racing,” said Beckett, 25, from Solva in Pembrokeshire.

“It’s been a long summer of training in Weymouth Bay with Elliot and a small crack squad of Brits, and it’s been so good, way better than I could have imagined. We’ve done a lot of days just relentlessly chasing each other around a racecourse, it’s been very different to a normal summer of traveling, but actually really cool.

“Now here at the Europeans I’m feeling good and excited about racing the rest of Europe. I’ve no idea what to expect from this venue but I think the regatta we did in Kiel a few weeks ago was good preparation, so I’m just looking forward to getting into it.”

Olympic sailing
Image © Pedro Martinez / Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Hanson and Beckett are joined by 2019 European champion Lorenzo Chiavarini, competing in his first event since injuring his back during training in late 2019, as well as young British Sailing Team athletes Sam Whaley and Dan Whiteley.

In the 112-boat ILCA 6 (formerly Laser Radial) fleet, the British Sailing Team is fielding four sailors including two-time Olympian and Tokyo 2020 sailor Ali Young and Hannah Snellgrove, who finished seventh at the 2019 World Championships and is returning to action following surgery to her knee.

Joining them are reigning youth world champion Matilda Nicholls and former youth national champion Daisy Collingridge.

“I’m both excited and nervous about the Europeans,” said Snellgrove, 30, from Lymington, Hants (pictured above).

“I’m excited to get racing again and nervous because it’s been so long. It’s 13 months since I have raced internationally and a lot has happened in that time – injury, knee surgery and of course Covid – so it will be really interesting to be back in the boat racing against the top girls to measure up where I’m at after some long months of rehab and work down in Weymouth. I can’t wait!”

Main image © Kieler Woche

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