At seventeen, Eline won the silver medal at the 2019 Laser Radial Youth European Championships in Athens. This year, the youngster sailed to first place at the Andalusian Olympic Sailing Week. She was voted Sports Personality of the Year by the municipality of Kapellen, where she lives.
Support young talent on their way to the top
Eline started sailing when she was seven in the Optimist class. Her talent has not gone unnoticed in the sailing world. During the Belgian Sailing Awards in Brussels in February, Eline picked up the 2019 Sailor of the Year award in the Youth category. More than 6,000 water sports enthusiasts voted for the winners via a poll.
Gumption Group supports Eline financially. ‘We like to promote young, driven talent on their way to the top,’ says Bart Embrechts of Gumption Group. ‘We recognise ourselves in Eline’s approach. Think big, excel together, embrace trust and definitely also: act gumption. These are our core business values, which we see reflected in Eline’s approach.’
The coronavirus threw a spanner in the works for the young elite athlete, but she has recently begun training again. Her ambition is to take part in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. ‘The lockdown was tough,’ Eline says. ‘The virus completely derailed the training schedule for two months. Cycling and workouts helped keep me fit, but as soon as it was allowed, I got back to doing the real work. Since mid-May, I’ve been sailing in Ostend again. It’s physically very demanding. I noticed that on a physical level, there is still room for growth, which is normal for my age.’
Eline is looking forward to the competitions in the autumn and next summer, when her campaign for the 2024 Olympic Games kicks off. ‘I train with Emma Plasschaert, the current Belgian number one in sailing. Yes, sailing is an individual sport but the team is incredibly important. Team spirit helps you transcend your limitations.’
Follow Eline on facebook.com/ElineVerstraelenSailing