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22 February 2007, 02:30 pm
FENCLOVA Going For Gold
Veronika FENCLOVA
Veronika FENCLOVA is on course for Beijing

Olympic Solidarity

Veronika FENCLOVA (CZE) will be a name to watch over the next 18 months. Last year the 26 year old enjoyed her best ever season in the Olympic Classes and was named as one of 20 sailors to receive scholarships from the IOC's Olympic Solidarity.
Her Olympic dreams received another boast at the start of 2007 as she joined Athens silver medallist Lenka SMIDOVA (CZE) in the new-look Czech 470 team. Whilst FENCLOVA's name might not currently be amongst those considered as the leading challengers for the podium places in the 2008 Olympic Games, the 26 year old has made major progress over the last two years. Now her move to join SMIDOVA in the 470 has pushed her right to the forefront of the medal chase for Qingdao.

FENCLOVA, from Prague, started sailing at the age of 7 at he Yacht Club Praha and progressed through the Cadet to the Europe. She started sailing on the Olympic Classes circuit in 2001 at the age of 20.

Her first three years were spent learning in the shadow of SMIDOVA, a veteran of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the leading light in Czech sailing. Whilst her more senior team mate was stocking up her medal collection from major regattas around the world, FENCLOVA was steadily improving and beginning to show some form, particularly in the lake conditions she learnt to sail in and practiced on.

Stepping Into The Limelight

SMIDOVA's Europe career reached its pinnacle with a silver medal at the Athens Olympic Games, and following the switch from the Europe to the Laser Radial, she opted to move to the two person 470. SMIDOVA's switch left FENCLOVA as the Czech Republic's leading light in the Laser Radial, a position in which her sailing has flourished.

FENCLOVA declared 2006 as, 'The best year in my sailing career'. She finished fourth at the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne, in the top ten at both the ISAF Grade 1 Holland Regatta and ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week and 11th at a highly competitive European Championship in Italy. Her consistent form was reflected in her ISAF World Sailing Ranking, with FENCLOVA holding a world top 20 spot for the entire year.

As one of 20 sailors receiving a scholarship from the IOC's Olympic Solidarity, FENCLOVA has been able to intensify her training, attend last year's Worlds in the USA and dedicate more resources to her help fulfil her Olympic dreams. She went to Israel to train with her coach Jakub KOZELSKY, who she explains is now playing a much more active role in her campaign, 'Two years ago I went everywhere alone and now I can travel with my coach more.'

Opportunity Knocks

With the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships and Olympic Qualification little over six months away, at the start of the year opportunity knocked.

SMIDOVA had been sailing the 470 with Elizabeth KRATZIG, but KRATZIG is not yet a Czech citizen and the Czech Republic need to qualify for their Olympic place in the Women's 470 in Cascais.

Cue FENCLOVA. She and SMIDOVA went to the USA for the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR. With just two weeks training together in Miami, the pair came in eighth overall, winning the Medal Race and finishing within 11 points of the podium. After such a promising start together, FENCLOVA decided to say goodbye to the Laser Radial and her and SMIDOVA now have a busy scheduled leading up to the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais, Portugal this July.

The next big regatta for the new pairing is the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy, before the ISAF Grade 1 all Olympic Class regattas in Hyeres and Medemblik leading up to the ISAF Worlds.

Twenty sailors selected for Olympic Solidarity scholarships for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Find out more at www.sailing.org/olympicsolidarity.

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