Samson Sets Sail for Singapore
By Vicki Jackson
Local high-achiever and upcoming champion windsurfer, Margot Sampson, has qualified for the very first Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which will be held just a few months from now in Singapore. Although still a sophomore at Palm Harbor University High School, International Baccalaureate Program, this sixteen-year-old somehow manages to balance the requirements of intense pre-university studies with the extraordinary demands of being a member of the US Sailing Youth Development Team for windsurfing and more.
While she routinely practices her craft 'on the water' three times each week, she also follows the direction of her personal trainer, and maintains a rigorous alternating schedule of physical training, as well as running four times a week. In addition, she finds time to write informative and upbeat articles as a regular correspondent for Windsport.com.
Unbelievably, her impossible dream began just three years ago, when she first experienced windsurfing at a summer camp held at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. She still practices there regularly under the tutelage of Britt Viehman, the US National Junior Coach for windsurfing. She credits Coach Britt and Karen Marriott, President of US Windsurfing Association, for their ongoing support toward her success. She allows that this rare opportunity for excellent coaching has produced one of the most dynamic junior racing teams in the country, with participants competing in regattas locally, nationally, and even internationally.
As Margot reported in an article in Windsport.com, almost thirty such kids from the United States, as well as Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, spent a chilly Spring Break on Merritt Island, Florida, at the Calema Midwinters, the North American continental qualifier for the Youth Olympic Games. Margot was one of four successful competitors to qualify to go on to the first edition of the Youth Olympic Games, which will be held the 14th through the 26th of August in Singapore.
According to Margot, the YOG is run by the International Olympic Committee like any regular Olympic games, and features opening and closing ceremonies, an Olympic village, and the torch relay. The YOG will alternate summer and winter with the regular games. After the inaugural event in Singapore this summer, the first winter YOG will be held in 2012 in Austria. The following summer YOG will take place in 2014 in China. More than two dozen summer sports, such as equestrian, gymnastics, table tennis, and track and field will be represented, with 3,500 teenage athletes in attendance. The windsurfing regatta is limited to forty entrants, with twenty each, both girls and boys. Throughout the year, qualifiers were selected by continent, with one representative per country allowed.
The US Olympic Committee is sponsoring this local representative and her coach for the duration of the YOG. Margot says she "is working hard to be competitive in Singapore," and will be traveling to France just prior to that event to participate in the Junior World Championships. She admits, "It's a lot of work, but it's also loads of fun," and feels honored "to represent her country and community at the first-ever YOG" and is "super-excited!"
Our young competitor summarized, "Windsurfing isn't a team sport, but it makes all the difference in the world to practice in a team environment. We push each other all the time. Many of my teammates were too old to try and qualify for the YOG, and they've moved on to bigger windsurfing gear, but I still look up to them and learn every time we're on the water. On the other hand, younger kids, like my sister Charlotte, who is 12, have now joined the team and they may be looking up to me. At least I hope so!" There's little doubt about that, as her "parents and sister are tagging along" for one awesome ride this summer.
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