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Barbara Kendall, an IOC member on course for Beijing 2008


Barbara Kendall, triple Olympic medallist and IOC member, now has her sights set firmly on Beijing, after showing her medal credentials at the recent Windsurfing World Championships. Kendall finished as runner-up at the RS:X World Championships on her home waters in Takapuna, New Zealand. Her World Championship silver medal, her fourth in the last six years, caps an incredible 12 months, during which Kendall has combined training and competing for her fifth Olympic campaign with her work as a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and looking after her two young daughters.

Towards her fourth Olympic medal
Aged 40, Kendall is a seasoned veteran of the women’s windsurfing circuit and one of the most successful of all women sailors. She has competed at the last four Olympic Games. At the 2008 Olympic sailing competition, which will be held in the city of Qingdao, approximately 800 kilometres southeast of Beijing, she will be aiming to become the first woman sailor to win four Olympic medals. However, unlike her younger rivals, the affable Kiwi does not have the luxury of single-minded dedication - in fact, her campaign for Qingdao is very much a family affair. Kendall is coached by her husband, Shayne Bright, while two of her biggest supporters are their young daughters, Samantha and Aimee.

A voice for the athletes
Alongside her training and family commitments, Kendall also plays a major role in the development of sport around the world. A member of the IOC and of its Athletes’ Commission since 2005, she is also the Chairwoman of the Oceania Athletes’ Commission, a role which saw her attend the South Pacific Games in Samoa last year to promote the “Voices of the Athletes” programme, aimed at increasing awareness of leadership in sport, HIV/AIDs and anti-doping issues.

A strong competitor for a fiercely tough regatta
Despite all her other commitments, Kendall is as competitive as you would expect any three-time Olympic medallist to be, and as August approaches, her focus is firmly on Qingdao. The RS:X Worlds, held at the end of January, are the biggest, most competitive and fiercely fought windsurfing regatta before the Games gets underway, and offer a perfect opportunity to take a look at the form book with just over half a year remaining to the start of racing in Qingdao. Kendall won the silver medal after a week-long tussle with her long-time rival and another three-time Olympic medallist, Italy’s Alessandra Sensini. After a nine-race series there was absolutely nothing between the pair going into the Medal Race - sailing’s new Olympic format, where the top ten competitors at the end of the series sail one additional, double-points-scoring race to decide the final standings. Unfortunately for Kendall, she misjudged the start, arriving at the line too late and surrendering the advantage to her rival. From there, Sensini used all her experience to stay ahead, and although Kendall fought back through the fleet to second place, she could not overtake the Italian. “I blew the start, damn it,” said Kendall afterwards with a wide grin. “From there it was catch-up and it’s pretty difficult to catch Alessandra because we’re such similar sailors.” Next up for Kendall is the Sail Auckland regatta, and then she will concentrate firmly on training in the build-up to the Olympic Games.


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