Wollmann relieved to get debut over with
Cecilia Wollmann said relief was her overriding emotion after negotiating the opening day of her Olympic Games campaign without experiencing any major hiccups.
At just 18 years old, Wollmann is one of the youngest competitors in the women's Laser Radial fleet of 37 sailors and understandably felt slightly overawed ahead of her Olympic debut in Guanabara Bay.
It was not long before the nerves settled, however, and she found her stride in the choppy conditions, finishing 32nd in the first race before learning quickly from her mistakes with an improved 28th.
“I felt it went pretty good for me today, I mean, it wasn't anything amazing but it wasn't anything terrible either,” said Wollmann, who is 33rd overall with 62 points.
“The conditions were quite hard and the wind was shifting quite a lot, plus everyone is pretty good here and that makes it that much more difficult.
“Realising what happened in the first race allowed me to change things for the second and that helped quite a bit.”
Wollmann, who qualified for the Olympics after finishing 40th at the World Cup in Miami in January, said the realisation she was facing the best sailors in the world only truly hit home yesterday morning.
“Now the first day is out of the way I feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less nervous than I did before the start [of the first race],” she said.
“Sometimes I was over thinking it. Knowing how good everyone else is made me think ‘maybe I should be trying a bit harder that this'.”
Wollmann has an impressive capacity to adjust to new surroundings and adapt to her conditions. She was one of the success stories at last summer's Pan Am Games in Toronto, finishing twelfth with several standout displays.
The Olympics is a whole different level of competition, however, and Wollmann said it was far too early to gauge just how high she could climb in the leaderboard.
“I'm not really sure how the rest of the competition will look,” she said.
“I guess a lot depends on the wind and whereabouts we're sailing on the course. Everyone here is so good.”
Wollmann said she was particularly encouraged by her quick starts and downwind speed; two important aspects of sailing she had worked tirelessly on with her coach Cristian Noe.
“Tactics and boat speed will be important,” Wollmann added. “I think my starts were pretty good today and that was nice because I've struggled with them.
“I think my downwinds were pretty good as well and I managed to pass a few people. That's something I've really been working on because I wasn't feeling too comfortable about them.
“In Bermuda we don't really have waves that often so it's kind of hard to practice. When you're used to sailing against people who don't move around [in the boat] as much it's hard to start moving around as much as they were doing.”
Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherland leads the fleet with ten points after finishing sixth and fourth in yesterday's races.
China's Xu Lijia had been in top spot prior to being disqualified from the second race for an infringement. Xu won the gold medal in London four years ago and a bronze in Beijing in 2008.
• Shelley Pearson returns to action today in the quarter-finals of the single sculls rowing in Lagoa Rodrigo de Freita.
Pearson finished third in her final heat on Saturday, covering the 2,000 metres race in a time of 8min 22.15sec.