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Age is no barrier to Wollmann’s ambitions

Learning experience: Wollmann, seen here at last year’s Youth Olympics, is ready to soak up all the knowledge she can

Cecilia Wollmann is ready for an unforgettable experience in Toronto.

As one of the youngest sailors at the Pan Am Games, the Saltus Grammar School pupil knows she is at a distinct disadvantage, with many of her rivals in the midst of full-time Olympic campaigns to qualify for Rio.

However, she still believes a top-ten finish is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Wollmann admits the nerves will be jangling when she lines up at the start of her opening Laser Radial race in Toronto Harbour tomorrow. However, she takes comfort in knowing she has nothing to lose.

“I’m quite young compared to the other competitors and it’s a really big thing that I qualified,” Wollmann said.

“This is by far the biggest regatta I’ve competed in and I’m quite nervous about it because it’s such a big event.

“I’m just going to enjoy the experience and see where I finish. If I can finish in the top ten I would be really happy.”

Wollmann said she had opted to concentrate on training with her Argentine coach Christian Noe rather than competing in numerous regattas prior to the Games.

She arrived in Toronto at the start of the month with her younger brother Mikey, one of the Island’s top youth sailors, who has helped her get to grips with the conditions in Toronto Harbour.

“I’ve been in Toronto for a while training with my brother, checking out the racecourse and feeling out the wind patterns and boat speed,” said Wollmann, who will compete at the Laser Radial Youth World Championships in Kingston, Ontario, next month.

Although Wollmann will be less experienced than the rest of the field, many of whom competed at the 2012 London Olympics, she finished an impressive tenth in the Byte CII class at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China, last summer. She also competed at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, in November, placing seventh in the Laser Radials.

Wollmann, however, believes the Pan Am Games will be on a whole different scale in terms of the sheer scope of the competition and fully intends to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy every moment of it.

“Lots of the sailors I’m up against were at the London Olympics and are on full-time campaigns for Rio,” Wollmann said, “However, I’m still at school, so I’m nervous to go up against them.

“But it should be a great experience and so far it’s been really exciting, especially moving into the Athletes’ Village, which was fun.

“I stayed at the Youth Olympic Village in China but this one is even cooler.”