Meet the Crew: Abi Oyepitan

30 November 2015

Abiodun Adesola "Abi" Oyepitan, 34, is the second of four British Olympic and Paralympic athletes who will take on the Clipper Race challenge.

Taking over from rower Bill Lucas, sprinter Abi specialised in the 100 and 200 metres. After winning bronze at the 2002 Commonwealth Games as part of the 4 x 100m team, she became one of Britain's best female sprinters before an injury at the 2004 Athens Olympics halted her career.

Abi made a fantastic comeback in 2010, winning a silver medal for England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in the 200m and a gold medal when she anchored the 4 x 100 m relay team to a win. She finally retired after competing in London 2012.

We caught up with Abi in Albany, ahead of her joining the GREAT Britain team for Leg 4 to find out how her sporting transition has been going.

As a non-sailor, what about the Clipper Race appealed to you?
What appealed most to me about the race is the challenge of doing something I would never even conceived of doing. It's the idea of coming out of my comfort zone, doing something that will be a real adventure!

How hard has it been to learn an entirely new sport?
I have to say it's been extremely difficult, but I've had amazing skippers and crew to learn from. Sprinting is an entirely different mentality. It’s all about focusing on very short, very high energy bursts. To go from that to sailing which is a high endurance sport, was a big challenge at first. You have to train yourself to extend your attention span immediately, and that’s not easy. Also I am changing from a very individual sport to being part of a big team so this has all been a real learning curve but I've learnt so much!!

What are you most looking forward to about Leg 4?
I am really looking forward to the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. I hadn't heard of the event before signing up to the Clipper Race, but it's a really prestigious event and I'm excited that I will be part of it. It sounds and looks like a very special experience.

Are there any roles on board that you particularly enjoy?
There are quite a lot of roles that I have enjoyed learning, though I must say I most enjoy being in the snake pit, as I feel confident that I know what I'm doing there.

Have you discovered anything about yourself during the experience so far?
I've learnt that I'm tougher than I thought! This experience has already made me learn so much more about myself that I had never known. It’s refreshing to be able to continue learning about yourself and finding out that your limits lie further away than you think. I’ve never done anything like this before, and so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how far I have been able to push myself mentally, but I’m sure there are more tests to come.

Have you had any good advice ahead of joining the team?
Yes, that it's going to be one hundred times harder than you envisage so prepare yourself!

What will success look like for you in this Leg?
I know it's going to be hard, but success for me is to finish the race having had a once in a lifetime adventure and no regrets!