Phillips sets sail on new challenge

(IRB.COM) Thursday 29 August 2013
 
 Phillips sets sail on new challenge
The England Sevens team hand Ollie Phillips over to the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

Former IRB Sevens Player of the Year Ollie Phillips will be putting his rugby fitness to the ultimate test when he sets sail in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race which starts on 1 September. 

The England Sevens player, who previously captained the team on the HSBC Sevens World Series, will be part of the Great Britain team while he recovers from an injury that has temporarily ruled him out of rugby. 

The 30-year-old was selected after his rugby season ended early through injury and he will join his side at the Clipper Race’s first stop in Brest, France in early September after completing a charity cycle ride from London to Brussels for the Alzheimer’s Society.

"The team are all very proud of Ollie and support him fully in his Clipper Race challenge," said current England Sevens captain Rob Vickerman, who turned out with his teammates to see their former captain off.

"We’re looking forward to following his adventures as he sails around the world and are wishing him and his Great Britain teammates a very safe and successful journey,” said Vickerman.

Phillips will then officially kick-start his ‘Road to Rio’ campaign when the race arrives in Rio at the end of the first leg in early October.

The player aims to return to the Brazilian city to represent Great Britain in the first Olympic Rugby Sevens event in 2016, before retiring from international competition.

Limits

“I think that mentally, physically and emotionally it is going to push me to my limits, but that is something that I look forward to facing and overcoming," said Phillips of his participation in the 40,000-mile, 11 month race.

“I hope through all these challenges and events, I can increase awareness and help to continue the fight against dementia. My grandmother's health deteriorated so quickly following her diagnosis that I decided to do something to help fight this terrible disease.

“I have an ambition to play at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games for Great Britain. I'm immensely proud to know that part of my mental and physical journey towards fulfilling that ambition will be tested and conquered under the sails of the Great Britain Clipper Race yacht.”

During the race Phillips plans to lead a programme of unique Sevens themed activities at many of the 15 stopover destinations, to help raise the profile of the sport internationally. The programme of events will aim to broaden sporting opportunities and inspire confidence within the next generation of sportsmen and women around the world.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder and chairman of the Clipper Race and the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world back in 1968-69, added, “I have no doubt that Ollie will be a great crew member for the Great Britain entry. As a seasoned team player with a competitive spirit, I am sure he will make himself and his team extremely proud."