WWe will never know, more a shame, what advice Sir Peter Blake would have given his niece as he prepared for an Olympic debut. What is at least certain is that Anna Burnet appreciates her family connection to Sir Peter, a famous New Zealand sailor who was shot and killed at the mouth of the Amazon by 53-year-old pirates. Burnet was only nine years old at the time. She depicts a “very famous sailor” with a hint of understatement; Blake held the world record and a two-time America’s Cup winner.
“I think about him a lot, he’s always been an inspiration,” Burnet says of his uncle. “And the rest of my family, everyone is really interested in sailing, so everyone has been very supportive. It would be amazing to win a medal for them; They are already so happy that we are involved in an Olympics, but bringing something back would be just amazing for everyone. “
Burnet will team up with John Gimson in the mixed Nacra 17 sailing category, which was added to the Games program in 2016. The duo collected silver medals at the European championships and a test event in Tokyo, with a fourth at the championships. 2019 World Cups that add to a sense of confidence around their Olympic hopes.
“Our goal is to win a gold medal,” says Burnet. “I hate saying that out loud because there can never be any certainty about that, or about winning a medal at all. If we do everything well and do the details well, we definitely have the ability to win a gold medal. But there are so many good teams and anything can happen in sailing, so it feels bad to focus on results. “
A wise approach. Yet Burnet and Gimson follow illustrious footsteps in the waters of Enoshima. Great Britain has accumulated 58 medals for sailing, including 28 gold, and is at the top of the overall table for the sport.
“The past year has been very uncertain,” says Burnet. “We have been through waves of different emotions. We always hoped this would all work out, but the other scenarios went through your head. Other people would read articles about the postponement of the Games and ask me what I thought. Things like that were challenging, trying to block things out. So it’s very exciting that this is happening. “
At 38, Gimson is the most experienced member of the team. A versatile runner, he spent more than a decade pursuing (and funding) his Olympic dream before the Tokyo call came in. “I have put together everything I have learned over the last 15 years to build a strong campaign alongside Anna, who is by far the best teammate I have ever had,” says Gimson.
Burnet’s path has been different, if only for the fact that he is nine years younger than his partner. As a teenager, he attended a talent camp hosted by former Great Britain Olympic sailor Joe Glanfield, where goals were put into perspective.
“You always have the ambition to be in the Olympics without having a real concept of when it might be,” explains Burnet. “In sailing, experience counts for a lot. Someone like Joe just puts your ambition more in line because when you’re young it’s like, ‘The Olympics? What about the next one? You have to go through a couple of Olympic cycles before you have enough experience. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism