Lesson in resilience enlivens evening

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It was a full house at Cable Bay Vineyards’ the Verandah restaurant on Sunday evening, 16 October, for the Waiheke High School sailing team’s fundraiser. Over 70 people went to hear keynote speakers Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie describe their experiences on the way to winning Olympic gold in London in 2012 and silver in Rio this year in the 470 sailing class.
Maria Heer, head of sea sport at the school, said the evening raised over $1200 towards training and travel costs to race against other schools. That sum included proceeds from the auction of sports memorabilia and other items held at the dinner. A black T-shirt and white singlet worn by the Olympians at Rio and signed by them drew a number of bids before selling for $140.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from the island’s sailing fraternity, all of the school’s sailing team were there to be inspired by the distinguished sailing pair known as Team Jolly. “People were chuffed to have Jo and Polly there. They were lovely and relaxed people,” said Maria. “We sat them with the kids and coaches. The kids just had big smiles all evening in their company; it was hero worship” she said.
A highlight was the passing around of the Olympians’ gold and silver medals during their talk. “They said they won in London relatively easily but that the second place in Rio was much more challenging” said Maria.
Being disqualified in two of their races at Rio, due to a controversial protest by Austrian competitors in their first race and for crossing the start line too early in their sixth race, meant they had to dig deep to have any chance of finishing in the medals. “They said winning silver at Rio meant more to them than gold in London, they sailed harder” she said.  And for the high school students that was a lesson about resilience and mental toughness to take home from the evening. • Rob Brennan

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