British team off agenda for Clem

REIGNING Island Games Laser champion Clem Thompson has made the difficult decision to step back from sailing – for the time being, at least.

Island Games gold medallist Clem Thompson is returning to university. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 25191471)
Island Games gold medallist Clem Thompson is returning to university. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 25191471)

After pausing her academics for three years to train full-time with the British Sailing Team, 22-year-old Thompson will shortly return to the University of Edinburgh as a second-year engineering student.

Despite the previous Tokyo 2020 hopeful still holding long-term ambitions in sailing, she has had little choice but to leave the British Team.

She rationalised that ‘juggling Olympic sailing and a challenging degree will damage both’ and explained what prompted the decision.

‘When I initially decided to go full-time, it was so I could get the best result possible at the U21 Worlds and Europeans, jump up the senior world rankings and do a campaign for the 2020 Olympics,’ said Thompson.

‘I succeeded in winning bronze at the U21 Europeans in 2017 – the only time a British woman has medalled at U21 level so far. My ranking moved up to 68th in the world in 2018 and I made the final four for the Olympic trials this year.

‘However, only one boat per country gets to sail in the Games, and the three more-experienced girls have outperformed me in trials. In particular, Alison [Young] just won bronze at the World Championships in Japan and it is very likely she will be selected.

‘Now the British Sailing Team’s focus is completely on the top one or two sailors in each class, pushing for medals at the Olympics.’

Ultimately, Thompson feels she has made the best long-term choice and that the team have fully supported her decision.

She has also found a great high to sign off on.

‘The Island Games in July was a fantastic event for me and I’m so glad I can leave on such a high.

‘Even though I’m leaving the team, I will stay sailing and immerse myself in university sailing. I still would like very much to race in the Guernsey 2021 Games and hopefully defend gold on home waters.

‘Long-term, I’m very interested in becoming an engineer on a yacht or ship, so an engineering degree will open a lot of doors for a career within sailing.

‘Although, after graduating, a comeback for 2024 is definitely on the cards.’

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