The New Zealand Olympic Committee caught up with two of the six Olympic solidarity scholarship holders as they countdown to London 2012 which is only 60 days away. Peter and Blair are hoping their Olympic Solidarity scholarship will lead to further success at the 2012 Olympic Games. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, NZ's London 2012 bound 49er Sailors, have achieved a second consecutive silver medal at the 49er World Championships. London will be Peter’s second Olympic Games and it will be Blair’s first.
How has the Olympic Solidarity (London Scholarship) programme helped you? Blair: It has enabled us to fully concentrate on our Olympic campaign without having to take time out of training to have a job to make money to get by. Pete: It has given me the a lot more time to put into our campaign, without having to come up with other financial support allowing us to perform the best that we can. Sailing has the most variables out of any sport so the thing you always run out of is time.
So it has effectively allowed you to continue chasing your dream? Blair: Yes, definitely. Pete: Yes.
Is your sport a popular sport in New Zealand? Blair: Sailing is a pretty well-known sport in NZ. With so much ocean around, it is hard for people not to have been involved in sailing in some way. Pete: NZ is an island nation – surrounded by water. There are relatively large numbers of sailors at junior level (compared to many countries) and a high percentage of those who get into sailing carry on the sport for life. But I would not call it a mainstream sport.
How do you maintain your motivation? Blair: Pretty easy, just knowing that our opposition we will race against in London are also training very hard! Wanting to stand on the podium. Pete: Never a problem – I get to spend my time doing something I love.
How did you get started in your sport? Blair: At a school sailing day when I was 11. Pete: My parents got me into it when I was about 6 and we used to sail in the estuary near our place. After a while we joined the local yacht club and started racing and it all went on from there.
What are the main attributes needed to be a successful athlete? Blair: Smart learner, hard worker. Pete: Discipline and a good work ethic
What is your training programme like? Blair: I spend time in the gym and cross training as well as spending time on the water with Pete. My job on the boat requires massive strength and anaerobic ability when pulling the gennaker up and down around the marks. Pete: Normally I spend about 20 hours a week on the water or doing some physical activity, and every other spare minute on the boat.
Have you set yourself any targets for the Games in London in 2012? Blair: Gold Pete: Win gold, not sure why anyone would do a campaign for any other reason.
Who was your Olympic hero or role model when you were growing up? Blair: Bruce Kendall Pete: Russell Coutts / Hamish Carter
How do you communicate with fans, friends and family? Do you use social media/links to Facebook? Blair: We use Facebook quite a lot to keep our family, friends and fans up to date with our campaign with photos and quick written updates. Pete: We are on Facebook “Pete and Blair Sailing”. We do regular newsletters for our supporters and these are published on the NZOC website as well as on the Sail-world website
What are you most looking forward to in London 2012? Blair: Racing in the Olympic environment against the best sailors from the best countries. Pete: Competing