With Tokyo 2020 squarely in his sights, second-year maritime law student and sailor William Alloway has become a master of long-term planning, juggling a punishing training schedule, coaching other students and keeping up with his studies. Helped in part by the Sporting Excellence scholarship, which first drew him to Plymouth, William further funds his campaign through his coaching work and securing sponsors, which all adds up to great experience for his dream post-uni job as a ship broker. After he’s won gold in Tokyo, of course…
Mastering the variables
I started off as a rugby player, with the dream of one day being able to play in the World Cup, but this all changed around the age of eight where I went on a sailing holiday with my family. From there I knew that sailing was the ultimate sport for me and the Games were my ultimate goal. The sport requires so many different skills as there are so many variables. The appeal for me is the mental game of finding the best way to master these variables and end up at the front of the fleet.
I was attracted to Plymouth Uni because of the Sporting Excellence scholarship and the reputation of its maritime law course. The scholarship allows me to cover some of my expenses, but as sailing is an expensive sport we’re always on the lookout for sponsors.
I train four days a week on the water and the rest of the days I’m in the gym. It involves long-term planning to ensure I don’t miss too much uni work. But on a normal uni day, it will involve waking up around 7:30am, having scrambled eggs on toast with beans, heading off to my lectures in the day and then heading to the gym in the evening. I’ll reply to emails, meet coaches etc, in between.
With our sailing training, due to lack of time, we try to make our sessions as productive as possible. We have a briefing in the morning and then with the aid of coaches spend three to five hours on the water. Then we’ll come in and do a video debrief and assess our performance for the day. In the gym I follow a strength and conditioning programme set by the Plymouth Uni support staff, and we normally take part in around 15 regattas a year.
My diet consists of lots of protein – normally four eggs in the morning followed by shakes after the gym, with lots of greens. Asparagus and spinach feature in most meals.
Finding time to socialise is hard. I have very understanding flat mates, which makes it easier. I go out when I can, but it’s quite rare these days. I also shoot when I can, as it helps me to relax and de-stress from the businesses of running an Olympic campaign and balancing university.
An Olympic state of mind
Commitment has to be the biggest attribute needed for this sport, without it you might as well give up. There’s so much going on behind the scenes, which takes up a lot of time such as sorting out boat transport and accommodation. And if you’re not committed to hit the gym or water on ugly days, then it’s not the sport for you.