'It was a great honour for me to be granted an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship,'
says ICINGIR. 'As a result, on top of the financial benefits, the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship gave me confidence and motivation. This confidence makes me look to the future with more clarity. It is a great advantage to have when I plan my programme approaching Beijing 2008.'
ICINGIR is the only Olympic windsurfer to train in Turkey year round and is currently the only Turkish windsurfer on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings. Whilst this might mean his place is secure if he can qualify his nation for Beijing, it makes finding effective training partners extremely difficult. For ICINGIR, this is a key benefit of the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, giving him the opportunity to train and prepare at the level common amongst his rivals.
'After I started receiving the scholarship benefits, I was able to spend more time training abroad in warmer climates during winter, with other top ranked athletes of my class. This kind of training pushes me to improve myself and it's what most of my competition is doing, so I cannot afford to miss out.'
2006 was highlighted by a 13th at the RS:X Europeans on his home waters in Alacati, Turkey, but the season ended for ICINGIR with a disappointing 57th at the first ever RS:X Worlds in Torbole, Italy. Perhaps with this weighing on his mind, ICINGIR began 2007 with a packed schedule which started in Miami. Over the four weeks he spent in the USA, he received training from two-time Olympic medallist Michael GEBHARDT (USA) and scored impressive finishes at the ISAF Grade C1 RS:X North Americans (eighth) and then the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR (26th). His OCR result would have been even better but for missing three races and competing in three injured after an accident midway through the series.
From there he went straight to Brazil for a training camp which included Tom ASHLEY (NZL), Ricardo SANTOS (BRA) and Joao RODRIGUES (POR). Whilst in Brazil, ICINGIR also competed at the Pre-Pan American Championship in Rio de Janeiro and came ninth at the ISAF Grade C1 RS:X South Americans. He had spent almost 50 days away from home, but his early season efforts had paid off. In the year's first release of the ISAF World Sailing Rankings he jumped into the world's top 20, setting a course for the top he hopes to follow as the year progresses.
Currently ICINGIR is in Palma at the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy, where an OCS in race 2 is upsetting an otherwise solid start. From Palma he will go to Hy?res and the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Fran?aise. Then his focus will switch to Cascais and the countdown to the ISAF Sailing World Championships from 28 June-13 July. 'This event is the most important event of my racing programme in 2007,' says ICINGIR. 'My goal is not only to qualify Turkey and secure my country a spot in my class at Beijing, but also to achieve my best ever result at an Olympic Class World Championship and finish at the top ten.'
Twenty sailors have been selected for Olympic Solidarity scholarships for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Find out more at www.sailing.org/olympicsolidarity.