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18 April 2007, 06:00 pm
VINCEC On Course For Beijing
Gasper VINCEC
Gasper VINCEC

Olympic Solidarity

With three regatta wins behind him already this year, Gasper VINCEC of Slovenia has stepped up a level as he follows the path to Cascais and ultimately Olympic glory in Beijing 2008.
As one of the sailors receiving an Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, VINCEC is aiming to build on Slovenian sailing's success at Athens.

Over the past five years, VINCEC has demonstrated he has the ability to compete at the top tier of the Finn class. However his results at the very highest level, with Olympic Games and Finn Gold Cup, have yet to match the form he has shown on other occasions. The funding from the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship will give him an extra boost as he looks to put into place all the elements to realize his Beijing dream.

'Every support is welcome on my way to the Olympic Games in China,' says VINCEC. 'The scholarship from Olympic Solidarity will improve my programme for this year. That includes high-end equipment, expenses for training and an expert team.'

Still only aged 26, VINCEC has been around the Olympic circuit for well over five years now. Originally starting off in the Laser, he soon elected to move to the Finn and it is in this class that success has come.

As VINCEC explains, 'My origin is a small and young country, where the sailing at the top level is not well developed compared to countries with long and strong sailing traditions.'

National Pride

Slovenia gained independence in 1991, but has established an impressive sporting record. At the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games the nation's rowers won a bronze medal and then gold in Atlanta four years later. Slovenia's sailors began to match the success of their rowers in Athens, with Women's 470 crew Vesna DEKLEVA and Klara MAUCEC (SLO) narrowly missing out on the podium, whilst Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) did win Slovenia's first-ever Olympic sailing medal, picking up the bronze in the Laser.

For VINCEC, Athens was more of a disappointment as he came in 20th in a Finn fleet of 25 sailors. However, since then, VINCEC has been on an upward curve. After the Olympic Games he won his first-ever ISAF Graded event at the Malcesine Finn Cup and following on from this 2005 was to prove a highlight year. He picked up the bronze medal at the European Championship in Sweden, won the ISAF Grade 1 Kiel Week and recorded a career-best finish (13th) at the Finn Gold Cup in Moscow.

Looking at this success, what he has learnt from it and how he aims to build and develop it in the future, VINCEC is clear that at the very highest level, every part of his campaign has to be functioning at 100%.'Teamwork is a key to success these days,' he explains. 'It is not just hard work, energy, goodwill or talent that leads to the top, but also support from sponsors, training environment, top experts and finally the equipment.'

2007 Off To A Flier

The best indication yet that these factors are beginning to fall into place for the VINCEC came at last year's Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China. After a disappointing 15th at the Finn Gold Cup in Croatia, VINCEC bounced back strongly to finish fifth in a small but very high quality Finn fleet in Qingdao. Come 2007 and having received the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship, VINCEC has had a terrific start to the season. He already has wins at the ISAF Grade 2 Semaine Internationale Cannes, ISAF Grade 2 Expert Olympic Garda and ISAF Grade 3 Split Olympic Sailing Week. His ISAF World Sailing Ranking is up to #12 and confidence is high, something that the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship has also helped him with.

'The trust of Olympic Solidarity in my commitment to sailing is more important to me than financial help itself,' reveals VINCEC. 'This will give me an extra push for my motivation. I am honoured that Olympic Solidarity has put me on the list of athletes which have a chance for one of the medals at coming Olympic Games.'

For VINCEC the components for his Beijing campaign are all falling into place. This time round he has the experience from Athens, he has the team behind him and results out on the water are beginning to reflect this. A disappointing result in Palma at the recent ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy is a reminder that there is still some way to go, but from there VINCEC will looking to bounce back as the three ISAF Grade 1 European regattas lead into the ISAF Sailing World Championships this July in Cascais, Portugal.

As the sailing year moves into top gear, VINCEC, with the help of Olympic Solidarity, is ready and waiting for the challenge. As he says, 'I will show my thanks with my work and top results at upcoming events.'

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

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