RISING windsurfing sensations Islay Watson and Finn Hawkins have today been named among Team GB’s squad for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games.
Watson, who trains at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, will represent Great Britain in the windsurfing competition at the Youth Olympics, taking place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 6-18 October.
The pair will be among 42 British athletes aged between 14 and 18 who will compete in 17 sports over 12 days of action.
They will both race in the Techno 293 Plus windsurfing class having impressed selectors with a string of top results this season.
Watson, 17, claimed bronze at the class European Championships as well as winning the Youth World Championships in the RS:X class, while Hawkins, 15, was third at the Techno Youth World Championships.
Both will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Tom Daley, Jade Jones and Duncan Scott who all went on to win medals at an Olympic Games having first competed at a Youth Olympic Games.
“It’s pretty awesome – it’s going to be an amazing experience,” said Watson, pictured above. “It’s going to be totally different to anything else I’ve done and I’m really looking forward to it.
“The Youth Olympics only comes round once every four years so to get picked to go is a real honour.
“It’s been a pretty mad year for me – I’ve done so many events but somehow everything has fallen into place, and the Youth Olympics is the icing on the cake. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to round off the year.”
Hawkins, one of the youngest athletes picked for Team GB, added: “When I was told I had been selected for Team GB I was speechless – it was an incredible reward after a hard event.
“My family are very proud of me because they know how hard I have worked to get this far and there support has been fantastic.”
Hawkins has only windsurfed for four years but has quickly developed into an accomplished racer.
Hawkins added: “My goal as with every outcome regatta is to finish on the podium.
“My ultimate dream is to go to the Olympic Games and inspire more people to start windsurfing along the way.”
Watson and Hawkins are both products of the Royal Yachting Association’s British Youth Sailing programme, which aims to identify and develop the world’s best young racing sailors.
The pair will be supported at the Youth Olympics by British Youth Sailing coach Oli Woodcock, an experienced windsurfer with a proven track record for nurturing young athletes.
Watson and Hawkins will meet with the rest of the Team GB athletes in Loughborough on Saturday to receive their kit – a momentous occasion in any athlete’s sporting career.
The 2018 Youth Olympics, which will feature almost 4,000 of the world’s most talented young athletes from 206 nations, is the third edition of the Games following Singapore 2010 and Nanjing 2014.
The Games will also make history through its commitment to gender equality by becoming the first Olympic event to host the same number of male and female athletes with 1,999 of each set to compete in Argentina.
Mahdi Choudhury, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Buenos Aires 2018, said: “Being selected to Team GB for a Youth Olympic Games is a fantastic achievement and our 42 young athletes should be hugely proud to be heading out to Argentina next month.
“Buenos Aires 2018 will offer a fantastic opportunity for our team to experience a multi-sport event for the first time and I’m sure it will act as a great springboard for their own senior Olympic dreams.
“Youth Olympic Games such as Buenos Aires offer the chance for young athletes to experience life in an Olympic Village, mix with competitors from different sports and nationalities, and are given the chance to grow as individuals as well as athletes.
“These events have helped shape the careers of Team GB Olympic stars such as Jade Jones and Tom Daley and we hope the same will be said for this group of young stars.”
Follow Watson’s and Hawkins’ progress at the Youth Olympic Games via British Youth Sailing’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.