Dorset athlete Ellie Aldridge says she’s feeling the pressure of being Britain’s first female Formula Kite contender after being picked for Paris 2024.
Aldridge was among ten sailors named for Team GB who will be looking to maintain Britain’s record as the most successful Olympic sailing nation of all time.
The Paris 2024 sailing competition in Marseille will be the first time Formula Kite will feature in the Olympics, and Aldridge is aware of the weight it will place on her shoulders.
Aldridge, 26, from Poole, said: “I think there’s added pressure. Everyone’s watching you now, but they don’t know what this sport is yet as it’s new – but more and more people are looking and watching.”
Aldridge is a highly decorated competitor –this year alone she has been crowned European Kitefoil champion as well as winning silver at the Paris 2024 test event.
Great Britain has won 63 medals in sailing at the Olympics, 31 of which were gold, leaving big shoes for the new competitors to fill.
She added: “There’s a lot of previous medallists that aren’t competing any more so younger people like me are going to have to keep the medal table up.
“There’s a lot of pressure to try and perform our best to get medals because of the history.”
Aldridge will undergo a vigorous training routine to ensure she is at her best ability in Marseille next summer.
Unlike other sports, kitesurfing competitors that are heavier are able to go faster due to being able to use bigger, more powerful kites.
Aldridge said gaining weight is a key focus of hers over winter.
“Generally bigger people go faster, and speed is a massive part of racing,” she said. “It’s something I’ve been struggling with and I’m trying to get better at maintaining and gaining good weight to get an extra speed advantage.”
Marseille’s hot climate is also an important aspect of Aldridge’s training.
She revealed that during the Paris 2024 test event the team had to wear ice vests to keep cool.
Aldridge said she will be in Marseille from May to adapt to the heat, while working with the team’s sport scientists on heat acclimation techniques.
She said there is a lot of preparation to be done before the Olympics but when it comes to her competitive mindset she reminds herself before competing that she has done all the preparation possible.
She added: “I know I’m good enough. I need to stop thinking of all the noise around me and just do it because I know I can.”