Grant comes to sailor Alex’s aid in bid to reach Olympics
Teenager given a £750 SportsAid boost as he aims to get aboard for the 2024 Olympics
AMERSHAM sailor Alex Smallwood is hoping a £750 Bucks SportsAid grant will be a leg up towards his dream of a place at the 2024 Olympics.
The first year A-level pupil at Dr Challoner’s was one of three young sportsmen to receive a grant last week at a meeting of the Bucks Sporting Lunch Club.
The 16-year-old, who competes in the 420 Class, has already competed internationally, gaining valuable experience at the Euro Junior Championships in Bulgaria last year.
He is now looking forward to next Easter’s selection trials for the British team, where he is hoping good results will enable him to compete in the European and World Championships.
Smallwood said: “I started sailing at the age of five or six and have been competing since I was a kid. It runs in the family as my dad sails a bit, and his dad did too, but neither as competitively as me.
“It was a great experience competing at the Junior Championships as an U17, even though the British team did not do as well as we would have liked. I’m now aiming for the World Championships in Italy next year, but it would be a huge step up.
“I’d love to turn pro and do sailing full-time. That’s the plan, but it will involve a lot of hard work. If not, perhaps I’ll look at coaching or yacht racing. My number one aim to sail in the 2024 Olympics, but it’s very hard to make it as a profession, and I’d probably have to make a decision on whether to go to university or sail fulltime by the age of 19.
“So I’ve got another couple of years to see if I’m discovered or not, and the grant will really help. It will help me compete in major tournaments, and you get so many people who cannot fulfill their dreams because of the financial side of it.”
Smallwood names Britain’s most successful ever sailor, Ben Ainslie, as his biggest influence, but was also impressed by London 2012 silver medal winner Hannah Mills when he met her, adding: “She was very inspirational, and I am taking a similar path.”
One of the other grant recipients was High Wycombe boxer Jamal Khan who, for the past three years, has taken home the GB Schoolboys Three Nations title.
Having won a bronze medal at the European Championships in Hungary last year, the 15-year-old is currently fighting in the well-respected NABC Championships, which aims to find the best 15 to 18 year-old boxers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
His ambition is to become world champion and emulate his heroes, Amir Khan and Muhammed Ali.
Money boost: Former rugby player Ian Robertson hands out SportsAid prizes to Alex Smallwood (top) and Jamal Khan