“I have been thinking of this race for four years now. And every day is a next step in the preparation for Rio.” Anders Pedersen (NOR) says he will go into his first Olympics in Rio with high expectation and no pressure, but, “looking forward to seeing and feeling the Olympic energy.”
He is one of the youngest Finn sailors heading to Rio at just 24 years old but has proved himself many times on the water. Junior World Champion in 2014, later that same year he qualified Norway at the first opportunity at the Santander world championships. Since then he has bee a regular at the front of the fleet and showing some real potential.
To become the top sailor he is today, he first had to overcome his fear of being alone in a boat. “When I first started sailing in the Optimist I was really, really scared of sailing by myself. From I was six years old, and for the next year and a half, I was scared every time I went training at my club. But I soon found out that you could actually master basically everything if you practice. So I started practicing.”
“I am preparing for the Games as every other important race. I have been good at picking out my peaks in the season, so I have full belief that I will be at my best in August. I’m going into the Games with no pressure except what I put on myself. I believe I am strong mentally and am good at focusing on the things that matters, and push away everything else.”
"The last four years have been a bit of everything. I was out most of the 2013 season with illness. In 2014 I did a lot of training in the boat and saw big steps in my sailing. I managed to win the Silver Cup (the then Junior World Championship) and did a good World Championship in Santander, and that did well for me regarding funding from my federation. This meant that I could take my campaign to a different level. In 2015 and 2016 I put in a lot of hours in the boat and I think we are on our way to something now.”
In 2015 he was contacted by the 2012 silver medalist, Jonas Høgh-Christensen [DEN], to see if he wanted to join his group for training in Clearwater, Florida. “I saw this as a very good opportunity to train with a successful and more experienced sailor. I’m trying to learn as much as possible, and I hope I am putting in some good things by pushing hard on training every day. I hope we have success in Rio, and can cash in all of our training. The group has worked well and we have good fun.”
“Jonas is the King, and I am the clown,” he laughs.
He is fully focussed on sailing at the moment. “There is actually not so much about me that is not related to sailing right now. When I’m not sailing, I’m usually training, studying, working, or, in the winter skiing."
Over the past four years, “The development has been huge. I am more determined in everything I do. From help by Olympiatoppen in Norway we have been able to use experts on physical training, and mental preparations. This has taken me to a whole different level then where I was four years ago.”
He said his preparations are all going well. “Right now it’s going good. We try to use our time wisely on the courses we will race on during the Games. Our time there has showed us that all time spent in Rio, is time spent well. The conditions are challenging wind and current wise. It is great to have some experience from all the different courses.”
In the final months he says he spent about 18 days training in Rio and about the same number of days training at home in Norway. In total he will have had about a month in Rio, considerably less than some teams. “From there on the focus will be to keep everything up to date, and not lose any feel. Apart from that it’s about staying away from any illness and injuries before we start racing.”
“The best thing about Rio is the days when you have 20 knots and 4 meter waves outside. We have been so lucky to train out of Rio Yacht club in Niteroi. A small, but excellent club. Nice people, good food. What more can you wish for?”
“The fleet is full of talented sailors who push hard in every race. This is my first Olympics and my expectations are great. I’m going to give it my all and then we will see. Hopefully I am going to give ‘the big boys’ a fight.”