Wandsworth-born Bryony Shaw has her sights set on gold ahead of today’s first RS:X Windsurfing preliminary race.
After winning in Miami’s World Sailing Cup in January and finishing second in the RS:X World Championships, Shaw is currently ranked first in the world and the bookies’ favourite to take the gold in Rio.
The 33-year-old secured a bronze medal in her first Olympics in Beijing, but was unable to repeat the feat in 2012 where she was held back by illness.
Shaw is unequivocal about her aims for this year’s games, she said: “My goal for this year is Olympic gold.”
Born April 28, 1983, Shaw’s love affair with sailing began on a family holiday to the South of France in 1992.
“I’ve always loved the sport,” she said, “The best thing about it is the fact that because we are on the ocean, every day is different.”
Shaw joined a windsurfing club at Farmoor reservoir, Oxford, and was soon competing in the national squad.
By age 19, she was competing against the top sailors in the world and after a year juggling architectural studies with windsurfing at Cardiff University, she decided to make sailing her top priority.
Beijing 2008 marked Shaw’s sporting breakthrough — winning the bronze medal catapulted her into the sailing limelight and cemented her status as a rising star.
Expectations were high coming into the home games four years later, but a recurring chest infection meant that Shaw could only finish a disappointing seventh.
In excellent form and following a brutal training regime, this year, Shaw is taking no chances.
She said: “I train for 20 hours a week and usually only have one day off.
“I’ve trained on 10 Christmas days too.
“But physiotherapy is also really important and I also fit in five sessions of that every week.”
Shaw’s main rivals are Lilian de Geus, ranked second in the world, and defending champion Marina Alabau.
The RS:X class contest takes place over five days, with three races per day from August 8 to August 12 and the medal race on Sunday, August, 14.
Catch Shaw’s first race this afternoon at 5.15pm GMT.