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Golden girl Aoife charts a course for Tokyo 2020

Published: August 23rd 2018

“Tokyo 2020 Olympics and an undergraduate degree in Mathematics - that’s the big picture. Day to day, it looks more like a lot of training, racing, travelling and studying.”

These are the words of sailor and Trinity Sport scholar Aoife Hopkins, who has already completed a year of that Mathematics degree.

Since finishing first year in May, Aoife has been extremely busy with all of the above and her hard work seems to be paying off.

At the recent Sailing World Championships event in Aarhus, Denmark, earlier this month Aoife qualified for the Gold Fleet cut in the Laser Radial.

She then followed it up by winning that race, leading the fleet at every mark, an even more impressive achievement when you consider the importance of the event.

“It was a massive event as it was the first Olympic qualifier for Tokyo 2020 for all nations. That means that for the last two years (since Rio), everyone has been working towards this competition and were all looking for a peak performance.

“So to race against the best sailors in the world, at their peak event, and post some solid results (including a race win) was really major for me. I didn't make the Olympic qualification criteria at the event but I came out with some big learning points.”

Unfortunately, Ireland didn’t qualify for the Olympics in Aarhus so will have to wait until the next opportunity, the 2019 World Championships in Japan, but there is no time for Aoife to dwell on that as her calendar is completely full.

“I head to Japan for three weeks in September to compete in the World Cup and also the Enoshima Olympic week - on Olympic waters. Then we'll have a lot of training both at home and in Cadiz, our winter training base, before heading to Miami in January to compete in the World Cup there.”

Another high point for the Howth Yacht Club sailor is that she was the designated flag-bearer for Ireland at the World Championships in Aarhus, an honour that will stay with her.

“It was such a surreal experience to carry the flag ahead of the biggest sailing event of the Olympic cycle. I was suddenly feeling extremely patriotic.”

Photo above: Aoife in action at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, earlier this month