Sibling rivalry led windsurfer Emma Wilson to bronze, her Olympian mother says

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Windsurfer Emma Wilson won bronze (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)
Windsurfer Emma Wilson won bronze (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

Team GB windsurfer Emma Wilson has sibling rivalry with her brother to thank for her bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, their mother Penny has revealed.

Wilson, 22, from Christchurch in Dorset was third in the women’s windsurfer RS:X class on Saturday, 25 years after her mother came seventh in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

A former Techno 293 Under 15 world champion, Emma has been pursuing Olympic glory for several years.

Emma Wilson celebrates her third-place finish (Thomas Bakker via DPA/PA) (PA Media)
Emma Wilson celebrates her third-place finish (Thomas Bakker via DPA/PA) (PA Media)

She just missed out on medals at the recent world and European championships and finished fourth at the Olympic test regatta two years ago.

However, she sailed to success in Tokyo and picked up Team GB’s first women’s windsurfing medal since Bryony Shaw claimed bronze in Beijing 13 years ago.

Competing as Penny Way, Mrs Wilson was world windsurfing champion in 1986, 1990 and 1991 but finished outside the medals for Team GB at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

Despite her own successes, Mrs Wilson said she was not the one to inspire her daughter’s dreams of sporting achievement.

Being a competitive little sister, she just went about trying to beat her brother at whatever he did and he probably led her down the path of windsurfing

Penny Wilson

She told the PA news agency: “It was very much her thing. She and her brother Dan (a professional windsurfer) saw the Olympics on television and said: ‘we want to do that.’ I don’t think she even knew I’d been to the Olympics until she was about 12. It wasn’t big, it didn’t dominate family life.”

Mrs Wilson said her daughter first got on a board when she was six or seven and began taking the sport seriously from the age of 13.

“Her brother was a really good windsurfer,” she said.

“Being a competitive little sister, she just went about trying to beat her brother at whatever he did and he probably led her down the path of windsurfing.

“She was playing hockey to a high level, tennis to a high level. She then had to just concentrate on one because she was getting too exhausted.

“Some of the decisions she had to make have been really, really difficult. ‘What sport do I do?’, was the first one but then, ‘what do I do with my education? Can I do bits of it later?’

“I think for me, and for her too, it (winning the bronze medal) justifies a lot of the harsh decisions she had to make.”

Before Emma left for Tokyo she got advice from coach Barry Edgington and her mother on some of the pressures to expect.

“She’s had a totally different experience to me. Barry and I were able to prepare her, as Barry went to the Olympics with me in 1992 and 1996 and then carried on as a coach,” Mrs Wilson said.

“She was well-prepared for how stressful the Olympics can be and that the best way to cope with it is to enjoy every second, and I think that’s what she’s done.

“I feel really proud – I feel both pride and relief that she’s going to come home happy.”

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