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

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT - Tim Street by tim.street@trin­i­tymir­ Twit­ter: Street­boyTim

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

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