As the youngest competitor at this season’s Cadet World Championships, sailor Megan Ferguson’s dream to become an Olympian are far from out of the water.
Aged just 15, Ferguson can already boast plenty of experience on the big stage, determined not to let that end any time soon after inspiration grew following the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Picked out as a potential star of the future, the sailor is one of 50 athletes across a myriad of sports chosen to receive financial assistance and expert tutoring across 2017.
Ferguson’s cause will be helped by the Royal Bank of Canada and SportsAid, handing her an annual £1,000 award towards costs such as travel, accommodation and equipment, while she will also have access to former Olympic and Commonwealth champions for help and advice.
The teenager is now hoping that can propel her to become part of sailing’s elite, with heady ambitions to reach the very top of the sport.
"This year, I had to sail in Argentina at the World Championships– there were 53 boats and I came eighth,” she said.
"I was the youngest there and now I’ve got to start all over again to qualify for the Cadet World Championships. I’ve got a couple more weekends of racing and then hopefully I’ll go to the Netherlands in August.
"My mum pushed me to do sailing in the early days but now I just love it and I don’t want to stop.
"I like the people and the competition and the competitive spirit in sailing. I want to get as high as I can – the World Championships are the first goal and then hopefully onto the Olympics.”
This year’s RBC athletes stretch across 31 disabled and non-disabled disciplines with the individuals having been nominated to SportsAid by their sport’s national governing bodies.
Like most, Ferguson was hooked to the screen during Rio 2016 as Ben Ainslie attempted to complete an extraordinary feat of winning gold medals at five successive Olympic Games.
His journey started before the 15-year-old was even born at Sydney 2000, though she remains determined to follow in her idol’s footsteps.
"The money is really helpful – it will go towards my boat, because I have to buy a brand new boat to be able to race to a good standard, which costs a lot, and then there’s repairing it, the sailing gear, and the travel expenses as well, and accommodation, it’s very expensive,” added the Robert May's School, Odiham, pupil.
"I don't have a constant name for my boat, I just name them as I go. My current boat is Aeolus, which is the 'keeper of the wind' in Greece.
"It’s inspiring to learn about the other athletes – it’s going to push me to the next level and it will keep me going further and further up the tree.
"SportsAid has really encouraged me to go further and people like Ben Ainslie has really helped with pushing me to go higher."
Royal Bank of Canada, one of the largest banks in the world and Canada’s largest bank by market capitalization, partners with SportsAid to provide financial support, ongoing mentoring and deserved recognition to 50 young talented British athletes looking to fulfil their sporting ambitions. For more information, please visithttp://www.rbc.com/