Aldeburgh sailor Matilda Nicholls is banishing all distractions on her journey to break into the European top 10.

The 22-year-old finished 16th at the recent ILCA 6 World Championships and will take to the high seas once more in Athens for the upcoming Europeans.

With the opportunity to make her senior medal race debut in Greece, Nicholls revealed that her main aim will be to dispel all nerves and relieve the pressure she places on herself during competition.

"I'm aiming to break into that top 10 as I've never been in the senior medal race," she said.

"So that's definitely my main aim for this competition.

"But actually, I also want to strip back some of the layers and try to take a bit of pressure off myself and not focusing just on the outcome, but the processes within.

"I struggled with getting off the start line on the final day of the world championships, so I've got some like goals around that and I'll be giving myself a focus for each race. 

"I've definitely found it recently quite helpful to just have like one or two things you're focusing on that day, to get rid of any added distractions and added noise that's going on in your head.

"Looking ahead, I'm definitely planning to go through the 2028 cycle, which is super exciting.

"When the 2024 Olympics have finished and everyone's attention switches to the next cycle, it'll be a case of getting that going as quickly as possible."

Nicholls was firmly in the top 10 all week at the World Championships, only dropping out on the final day of racing.

Initially disappointed to miss out, the sailor now looks back on her time in Argentina fondly having achieved her best-ever result on the global stage.

"At the time, it was a tricky one for me because I'd been in the top 10 all week and then dropped out on the last day," she said.

"But looking back on it now, I think it's the best performance I've had in the senior World Championships.

"So yeah, I've now come to terms with actually being happy with the results."

Reflecting on her Worlds performance, Nicholls admitted that her nerves got the better of her on the final day of racing.

However Nicholls is now learning from her mistakes ahead of the European Championships and acknowledging the psychological side of sport.

"Going into the last day, I was a bit nervous," she added.

"Sometimes when you're in a good position, you feel like you have something to lose but I don't think I really admitted to myself that day, how nervous or how much pressure I was putting on myself.

"I've always been of like the mindset that emotions shouldn't affect your sailing or anything and you should just bury them.

"I don't think I had really acknowledged how important the psychological side of sport can be in helping you improve and so I'm just working on that a little bit."

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