Surbiton sailing champion Nicola Groves teams up with Ben Saxton to make history as the first Brits to compete in the new Nacra 17 catamaran class today.
Making its debut at Rio 2016, the race is the first mandatory combined male and female Olympic sailing event.
Teaming up in 2014 Groves and Saxton forged a firm partnership and quickly rose to success as they were crowned European champions the following year.
While dubbed as the fastest, most furious boat race in the Olympics, the duo, who have scored in the top ten in several World Championships, are determined to sail to Olympic glory.
“It means everything to me to be selected for Team GB,” Groves said.
“It’s the highlight of my life, and I can’t wait to get started.”
After winning a bronze medal at the Copa do Brazil last December they are now setting their sights on a shinier gold medal in Rio.
The 27-year-old became hooked on the sport after her parents, both sailors, took her and her brother to Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club in West Molesey when they were younger.
— Alex Groves (@AlexGroves_) August 5, 2016
Like most sports, to get to a high level requires sacrifice – something that never bothered ambitious but modest Groves.
Instead of going out with friends Groves would be up at 4am to go training in north Wales.
Groves said: “I had some great weekends in the sea taking part in some really long training sessions, although it was absolutely freezing when we’d be training in the middle of February or December.
“But I don’t regret it at all, I’m still good friends with them and we keep in regular touch, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Groves uses Shirley Robertson [British Olympic gold medal winning sailor in 2000 and 2004] as her inspiration.
She said: “Most sailors will tell you that they looked up to Ben Ainslie, but Shirley was always my favourite.
“She managed to win gold medals, so it just makes me think, ‘Why can’t I?’”
Groves will be in action at 5:05pm GMT today.
Featured image courtesy of CKLG Accountants via YouTube, with thanks