A group of youngsters from the Laureus-funded ‘I Challenge Myself’ project based in New York City have experienced elite level sailing alongside Laureus Ambassador and two-time Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker.
Walker, who skippers the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) team in the Volvo Ocean Race took time out of his hectic schedule preparing for the USA leg of the race in Newport, Rhode Island to pass on his sporting experiences.
The youngsters were given the chance to have a tour of ADOR’s boat, Azzam, meet the team who will be taking part in the race, as well as interacting with Ian Walker. They then watched from the waterfront as Azzam, which is sponsored by Laureus Global Partner IWC Schaffhausen, took part in the Cape Town In-Port race. Two lucky young people from ‘I Challenge Myself’ also had the privilege of being on board Azzam as ADOR took park in the in-port race.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Walker and sailing partner John Merricks took the silver medal in the 470 class. Three years later Walker teamed up with fellow Brit Mark Covell and at the Sydney 2000 Games the pair won the silver in the Star class.
Walker has also been involved in two America’s Cup campaigns. When Britain launched its first bid for the America’s Cup for 14 years, Walker was named as skipper, but lost to US yacht Stars and Stripes in the quarter-finals of the 2003 qualifying competition. For the 2007 America’s Cup, he joined fellow Olympic medallist Iain Percy as the tactician of the Italian team +39.
Commenting on the visit, Laureus Ambassador Ian Walker said:
“I was delighted to welcome these inspirational youngsters on board Azzam. My sport depends on teamwork, respect and leadership and it was great to hear about how Laureus is helping these young people to develop their own life skills through sport and the ‘I Challenge Myself’ programme.”
‘I Challenge Myself’ (ICM) provides public high school students in high-risk communities of New York City with opportunities to increase self-esteem and health awareness through athletic accomplishment and community involvement. ICM works toward providing teenagers in New York City's most underserved communities with opportunities to develop leadership skills, teamwork, improved physical fitness levels and a commitment to social responsibility.