Bjornar Erikstad: Confidence is High for Rio Games
Published on August 26th, 2016
Heading in to a fourth Paralympic Games, Norway’s Bjornar Erikstad will be looking to have just ‘one good week’ in Rio de Janeiro, and for him personally, that is all he needs to succeed this year.
Erikstad has been sailing all his life, so to narrow success down to just one week isn’t just an off-the-cuff remark, it has been born out of a longer term positive attitude and outlook from the 2.4 Norlin OD sailor and his family.
“I started sailing the Optimist,” explains Erikstad, “then the Soling with my parents. Then after that I started to sail a lot of big boats. At the age of 15 I was introduced to the 2.4 and I have sailed that ever since.”
Coming from a sailing family, Erikstad was always destined to be in a boat and to race in regattas around the world, but his family have always been there to keep him grounded.
“I’ve been lucky my family have been very supportive and have never given me false dreams. They have always said if you really want to achieve something you have to fight for it. I have always thought ‘it’s up to you’ and when I really learned that it was a gift.”
Erikstad was born with a condition which means his hands are attached directly to his shoulders, but quite typically from the Norwegian, this has never been a hindrance to him.
“My disability I don’t think has affected me much. Of course I’m born the way I am and I can’t hide that but I’ve never thought I wanted to be born with longer arms or with perfect legs because I would never have been able to live this life if I hadn’t been disabled.”
Sailing in the 2.4 Norlin OD means that Erikstad can adapt the boat to how he needs it to be able to sail, and as always with Erikstad, almost simply he explains his set up, “All my control lines are around me and I steer with my feet. I pull all the lines with my teeth, but I have a guard. I have to protect them.”
Although Erikstad has been to three previous Paralympic Games he has only managed a seventh or eighth placed finish, but heading in to Rio 2016 he currently sits at #3 in the World Rankings in the 2.4mR class and has been picking up more regular podium finishes at the Sailing World Cup events since his last Paralympic Games outing in London 2012, so confidence is high.
“The Paralympics has always been a dream and be a part of that, and then when you get selected you want to do well. I think I am on the right track and if I get my kind of week I think I can do well. Paralympics is one week and you have to be good that one week. That’s my goal this year.”
Erikstad starts his quest for a Rio 2016 Paralympic Games medal on the Pão de Açucar race area of Guanabara Bay.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place on September 7-18 with the sailing scheduled to be raced on September 12-17 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Source: World Sailing