Florence Allan sails into Rio Olympics spot

| 20/05/2016
CNS Local Life

Florence Allan is heading to the Rio Olympics

(CNS): Cayman Prep and High School student Florence Allan would have to be forgiven if she lost her focus when she sat her A-Level economics exam Wednesday, 18 May, as that was the day she found out she had been invited to compete at the Rio Summer Olympic Games. “I’m still taking it in. It still feels really surreal,” said Allan, whose sport is sailing.

She was home studying when her dad told her the news. It was a “real mix of emotions,” she added.

Since she figured her chances of being invited to the Olympics were slim, Allan, who turns 18 later this month, said, “I was trying not to think about it too much because it was ultimately out of my control. I didn’t want to be brought down if I didn’t get awarded a spot.

“I can’t really describe the feeling – when you think about the Olympics every day and then you suddenly get invited to the Games. It’s a really special feeling that not a lot of people get to experience.”

Both Allan, and Raphael Harvey, the head coach of the Cayman Islands Sailing Club (CISC) and National Sailing Centre, were expecting Tokyo 2020 to be her Games.

“When I heard the news…I originally thought it was a hoax. I immediately called the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee for confirmation,” Harvey said. “Saying that I’m proud would be a great understatement.”

The last Olympic sailing competitor from Cayman was Tomeaka McTaggart, who took part in both the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Allan’s parents hope other young women will follow their daughter’s success.

“Rob and I are thrilled and delighted for Florence,” mum Gillian Allan said. “It is great for the Cayman Islands and we hope this will inspire other girls to get involved in the sport. [Raphael and Florence] have worked very hard to get to this point.”

Coach Harvey added: “This means a great deal for the sailing community as whole. It’s just the boost we need at the moment. I think this will serve as great motivation for all sailors in the programme, especially the younger sailors.”

Despite all the excitement of being chosen for the Olympics, Allan said she has to concentrate on her schoolwork.

“Going forward, I still have to finish my exams – which I am currently in the thick of,” she said. “After my exams finish, I will try to get to Rio as soon as possible to try and familiarise myself with the wind and waves. There’s still a lot of work to do before the games so I will be training as much as I possibly can.”

For the past 11 years, Allan has been exposed to many things through sailing and her parents credit her success and persistence to the Sailing Club.

“This is great for CISC and the Youth Sailing Programme – it shows that it’s working. Florence started sailing when she was about six years old at the CISC camps,” Gillian Allan said. “It’s testament to the level of coaching that is offered and what can be achieved. Florence is now going to Rio!”

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