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Price is right for London debut: AOC Feature

Author imageAOC26 Nov 2011
Price is right for London debut: AOC Feature

Making history is something that is well known to Sydney sailor Olivia Price, and she hopes to continue breaking ground in her sport all the way to the London Olympics.

Making history is something that is well known to Sydney sailor Olivia Price, and she hopes to continue breaking ground in her sport all the way to the London Olympics.

As a 16-year-old Price joined the Australian women's match racing team and became the youngest sailor on the world tour.

She has been competing on the international circuit for three years now, all the while finishing high school through the Sydney Distance Education School.

"I left mainstream school in 2009 before heading to Europe for the beginning of our tour," Price said.

"I've completed my HSC studies over two years via Pathways and have just finished my final exams!"

Price is the skipper of a women's match racing team vying for selection for the London 2012 Games. She competes alongside her two crew members Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty – all three hailing from Sydney.

"My teammates are practically my best friends," Price said. "We are a relatively new combination, starting to sail together in July this year. However, Lucinda was one of my first match racing skippers and I actually won my first match racing regatta with her. We all get along so well and it's one of the main reasons for our rapid progression as a team."
Nineteen-year-old Price is the youngest in her boat with Curtis her senior at 23 and Whitty aged 21.

If the team wins gold in London, Price [by then aged 20] will be the youngest female athlete in the world to do so. Currently Kristine Roug of Denmark holds the post, winning gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta as a 21-year-old.  The history-making feat drives Price even more towards gold.

In 2012, sailing will be held at Weymouth and Portland, a few hours south of central London. The Australian match racing crew are no strangers to the course having competed there at the Olympic Test Event in August this year, finishing fifth.

Match racing will be making its Olympic debut and will no doubt be an exciting addition to the Games. With just two boats on the water at a time and a round-robin knockout style of racing, it is popular discipline for spectators at the course and on television.

"Becoming an Olympic discipline has enabled match racing to be put on the larger world stage," Price explained.

"As a new event and as a popular discipline for spectator viewing – I imagine it will be in the spotlight quite a bit during the Games."

However getting to the Games is not all smooth sailing for Price and her crew. There is another boat of tough young Aussies aiming to be in London and with just one spot on offer it will be a tightly fought battle.

"We have two top teams competing for the one spot, so the pressure to perform is always evident and we continue to push each other to try and become better," Price said of the rivalry with Nicky Souter's match racing team.

Both crews are based in Sydney and regularly train against each other which is a key advantage for their development and improvement.

In just a few days they will have the chance to prove their mettle in front of a home crowd as they contest the 2011 World Championships in Perth. The top eight teams at the competition qualify a spot for the Olympics- with spots limited to one team per country. Assuming the Aussies get over the line, the process of selecting the crew to go to London will then begin. Results at the upcoming World Cup events are the deciding factor.

Who will make the final cut is anybody's guess at this stage but one thing is for certain, Australia will be the one to watch in match racing at London 2012.

Alice Wheeler

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