SAILING: Millie wishes GB team good luck

Millie and Ben Ainslie (picture RYA)
Millie and Ben Ainslie (picture RYA)

Eight-year-old wins card competition

Thurlaston eight-year-old Millie Irish was invited to rub shoulders with Britain’s top Olympic sailors – including triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie – after winning a competition to design a good luck card for the GBR team.

Millie, a pupil at Dunchurch Boughton Junior School, was among three children chosen to wish the team well at this summer’s Games after her card – which said: ‘Good Luck, But Win’ on a Union Jack picture – caught the eye of Olympic sailing team manager Stephen ‘Sparky’ Park. Millie’s message, he said, was a sentiment he felt the team should heed.

The winners, in three age categories, were chosen from hundreds of entries from around the country.

The children and their families had a tour of Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, which will host the Olympic and Paralympic sailing events.

Their day out coincided with the Sail for Gold Regatta, the last Olympic classes sailing event at the venue before the Games, which saw all the top names out on the water. Millie was able to go out in a powerboat to watch some of the medal racing, before returning to the boat park to collect autographs, including that of Britain’s most successful sailor Ben Ainslie, and fellow Olympic gold medallists Paul Goodison, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson. The children then gave their good luck cards to the team at a special presentation.

Millie, who sails at Draycote Water Sailing Club near Rugby, said: ‘It was great to win the competition and brilliant seeing all the sailors who will be competing at the Olympics this summer. I hope they do well!’

Celia Edgington, coordinator of the Royal Yachting Association’s Sail for Gold campaign to support the British team, said afterwards: ‘It has really enthused the youngsters to get out sailing more and they all seemed genuinely excited to have met the sailors.’