Emma Wilson admits she was unable to gauge the level of competition when she lined up for the start of her windsurfing Olympic event writes Tum Balogun.
No one had even seen eventual winner Lu Yunxiu for the preceding two years.
That was largely thanks to the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic of 2020, which delayed the Games for 12 months and greatly restricted the routine travel schedule for a sailor in the run up to an Olympics.
The 23-year-old spoke ahead of the release of the behind the scenes Olympic Channel documentary, ‘Chasing Tokyo’, which chronicles an unprecedented 18-month journey of a group of British Sailing Team athletes.
Wilson went on to claim an impressive bronze medal in her first Games and detailed the unique challenges sailors faced in that period.
She said: “In the winter in England it's not good to train here so that winter [in 2020] there was still nothing in the UK and it was hard to get flights out.
“I went to Europe and didn’t come back for six months, I just stayed there.
“My family came with me which I’m pretty grateful for because it would have been pretty lonely on your own.
“But we just didn't have many competitions so it was pretty weird lining up in Tokyo not knowing what level anyone was at.
“We hadn’t seen [Lu Yunxiu] for two years.”
Chasing Tokyo, which will be released on July 28 - ten years after the London Olympics - aims to lift the lid on a world few appreciate aside from the major summer showcase.
Despite being the most successful sailing team in Olympic history, the sport often struggles to attract attention.
And that’s a fact the Portland-based star attributes to its lack of access when compared to more popular sports, adding: “I think it's the accessibility to it.
“You play everything at school but you don’t go and do sailing.
“Maybe a few schools go windsurfing or sailing but it's not really mainstream - I’m really passionate about getting more people into windsurfing.
“I don’t think it has to be one of these sports that has to be really expensive, I don’t know how but I’m going to try and change it in the future.”
Wilson’s attention has already turned to the Paris Olympics Games and she is understandably aiming for gold after finishing just two points behind Lu in the women’s RS:X event.
The pair were separated by Charline Picon who claimed the silver medal ahead of Wilson only by virtue of her final race result as both finished the competition locked on 38 points after 12 races.
“It was amazing, definitely the best moment of my life,” she added on her Olympic debut success.
“It’s really easy to forget all the hard things when you win a medal, it's definitely worth it.
“I didn’t expect to win a medal, I was ranked fourth, I came fourth for every World Championships for the past three years.
“Two points is literally nothing in sailing, basically in the last race [Charline Picon] finished ahead of me which meant she got a silver medal.
“Looking back it's amazing but it's also like ‘I was so close to winning a gold medal.’
“That’s definitely my goal now to try and win a gold medal in Paris.”