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Meet N0 1 Tour Racing Champion for Formula windsurfing, Alison Shreeve

Alison talks to WSR about life and Windsurfing

Alison's Family Tree

Where and when were you born? Hornsby, Sydney
Names of parents and grandparents?
Colin and Glenda Shreeve
Grand Parents: Fred and June Shreeve, John and Elane Ross
How many brothers and sisters do you have and what are their names and ages?
Sisters: Catherine 21 years, Christine 14 years
Brothers: Ben 6 years

What sports did you participate in while growing up?

Athletics, Hockey, Cricket, Indoor Cricket, Basketball, Touch Football, Cross Country, Swimming, Windsurfing

What age were you when you first developed an interest in Wind Surfing?
16 years old

Was Wind Surfing always your main interest and long term goal?
My career has always been my main interest and long term goal, but now that I have done so well I feel that windsurfing is my career. My long term goal is to hopefully make a living from it and buy my own home one day and not having to sleep in my car for months every year to make ends meet!

Where did you live as a child and where did you grow up?
Until I was 2 years old I lived in Sydney, from 2-11, I lived on a Farm at Birdwood, from 11-18 we lived in Port Macquarie, from 18-23 I've lived in Sydney.

Who else in your family was interested in Wind Surfing?
My Dad started windsurfing at the age of 40 after I had already taken it up!

How did your windsurfing career develop over the years?

I chose windsurfing as a school sport. Mark Jordan saw potential and offered me to come and be tought for free on the weekends. Seven months later I went to my first Youth Worlds in South Africa. Two more Youth Worlds Championship and finally coming 2nd in Sydney in 2000 was a huge boost for me. After coming 3rd in the 2000 Olympic trials, I decided that competing the Olympics was the path for me. I did three European campaigns mostly funded by my parents (God bless them) and my results went from 56th at the 1999 World Championships to 5th in 2004. After a disappointing defeat in the Athens Olympic trials I decided to try my hand at Formula windsurfing and go on the professional tour. In my first year on the formula board I won the PWA World Tour Title, came 2nd in the Formula Worlds, 2nd in European (formula) and helped ISAF choose the new Olympic board for up and coming Olympics over two events.

What limits were placed upon you as a female participant?

The prize money we get on the Professional circuit is 10-20% of the mens. So
while the top men can pay off houses and be comfortable, the women have to
scrape by and sleep in their cars, and budget flights etc.

Who were the significant people during those years and in what way were they significant?
Mark Jordan my first Coach, Brendan Todd the National Olympic coach took me under his wing from 2000-2004, Donna White my Physio who kept me going and my Parents for supporting me.

What were the reactions from males as you became more proficient at your sport?
I found that training with the men is the best way to get to the top level in the women. I would push the men because they didn't want to be beaten by a girl, and the men would push me because they where physically stronger than me. It is a healthy training environment.

How did Male Windsurfers treat you?
The men on the professional circuit often made comments such as "Why don't you girls go and get your own tour so we can have more prize money?" Others where really helpful like Steve Allen (Aussie world champ) He taught me nearly every
thing I know in Formula and even let me go on the water with them to train. The Olympic class guys just treat me like one of the guys, especially noticable on the
water - if I am beating one of them in a race they all of a sudden start pumping harder to beat me!

What are your greatest career highlights?
Winning the PWA World Title 2004 in my rookie year. 2nd Formula Worlds Leba, Poland 2nd European Formula Championships Lake Garda, Italy 4th Raceboard Worlds Palermo, Italy 4th Mistral Olympic class Worlds Cesme, Turkey 1st Windsurf World Festival Palermo, Italy

Have you ever had any major injuries ?
No, major injuries. I twisted my ankle once, but I recovered well and it never occured again and I once pulled my hamstrings.
Can you earn good money or do you have to rely on sponsorship?
You can only earn good money if you’re in the top 10. I think everybody else has to rely on sponsorship.

What positive or negative factors has Windsurfing instilled into your present lifestyle?
I have a wide knowledge of the world and different cultures. A seasoned traveler. (In my 6 years of sailing I have only ever had to pay excess baggage twice!) I have learnt to rely on myself to get things done and to push myself to the limit. You need good time management skills to be able to fit in training, organizing trips, sponsors, where equipment is to be sent, warranties, flights, accommodation, insurances, sponsor obligations, personal fitness, physio, Federation obligations (coaching seminars etc), fitness tests, and maybe having some time out.
What has been your most challenging event so far?
The Athens Olympic trails where definitely the most challenging and draining events I had ever done. When you have put so much work in over the years and you have so many people supporting you that you don't want to let them down, you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform to the best of your ability.

What has been your funniest moment?
Watching Olympic athletes go to the loo of the back of their coach boat with someone holding their arms and legs while they hang off the side, because they couldn't wait till after the race. Peeing is not a problem as wetsuits can be
washed but number 2's don't wash out so easily!
What message would you give to a young person interested in Windsurfing today?
Windsurfing is the best sport in the world. Not only do you get to travel the world to all the most exotic places (coastal!) you are challenged every day. You need to know all about the wind and weather systems and how the land affects the wind, waves and current for racing.

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