Beckett hoping extra sailing time during Covid will aid Olympic dreams

·4-min read
Michael Bennett is hoping the time he spent on sailing during lockdown will help him in his quest to reach the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Michael Bennett is hoping the time he spent on sailing during lockdown will help him in his quest to reach the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

By Megan Armitage

Michael Beckett found solace on the water during Covid and is now using his newfound skills on the road to the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.

The 27-year-old Solva star channelled his energies into his sailing during the pandemic as a way to knuckle down and improve his sailing.

With the 2024 Paris Olympics in mind he has already seen an impressive change in form, winning the 2021 European Championships and Trofeo Princesa Sofía this year.

And with the added support of a strengthened training group last winter, Beckett is in a prime position to challenge for that all important Olympic spot.

He said: "The world paused and it was a really interesting period for me in that summer where you didn't really travel and didn't really hang out with anyone or have fun.

"I basically just spent the whole time sailing without the pressure of doing any events.

"But I think in that period I got significantly better as a result of having all that time without any events or distractions.

"It was just Elliot [Hanson] and I and we did an awful lot of sparring together and training together in Weymouth.

"When I came back to doing events after that, I suddenly found that I was a lot better basically."

Beckett has thanked his close-knit training group of ILCA 7 sailors down at British Sailing's base on his path to success as the athletes would encourage and help each other with the mental and strategic side of racing.

He added: "We didn't just train well and push each other but when we finished a training session we had a very nice honest chat about it and we would share ideas.

"Coaching is great but if one of your competitors is willing to tell you what they were thinking when you did such a move and you can kind of swap ideas, it's a really great way to learn.

"The tactics and strategy of racing is best compared to a chess game probably. It's that kind of knowing your opponent and trying to second guess their next move whilst they're trying to guess your next move.”

Beckett took pride in his win at the Princess Sofia regatta, competing against some of the top sailors in the world who had returned to competition following the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The sailor began competing aged 10 after learning to sail on his father's hand-made boat. In fact, he loved the sport so much he went on the study Ship Science at the University of Southampton.

And now, with his whole village behind him and a foundation of continually improving results, Beckett might just be on the plane to Paris in two years time.

"The Olympics is just an incredible opportunity and a very alluring thing.

"Sailing is most famous for being in the Olympics, literally since I was seven, people in my village have been asking me if and when I'm going to be in the Olympics.

"But the thing I find really interesting about it is that it's just one opportunity in four years. It’s the ultimate pressure cooker, the challenge is insane.

"I think the main focus for me is not just qualifying but making sure that I'm good enough to win it.

"I've got to genuinely be confident that I can win a medal there and there's a lot of work I still need to do but where we are in the cycle I'm happy."

The British Sailing Team are the most successful national Olympic sailing team of all time and will proudly fly the flag for Great Britain at Paris 2024