A DOUBLE Olympic gold medallist helped inspire young sailors during a visit to Wearside.
Sarah Ayton, OBE, visited Sunderland Yacht Club, in Roker, to meet sailing enthusiasts, urging them to “follow their dream” and get to the top of their sport.
The 32-year-old, who struck gold at Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, said: “It was great to meet the young members of the club.
“I was able to share a few sailing stories and host a question-and-answer session.
“Hopefully, what I say proves inspirational.
“At that age, the most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing
“But as long as you work hard and put the time in, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to go on and win national and international competitions.”
The visit was part of a nationwide dealership tour organised by Volvo Car UK to celebrate its “heritage and legacy” in British sailing.
Sarah also dropped in to Mill Volvo, in Wessington Way, to chat with staff, customers and guests.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here,” she said. “It has been a really good day.”
Sarah, from Middlesex, won gold in the Yngling Class with teammates Shirley Robertson and Sarah Webb, in Athens, and with Sarah and new teammate Pippa Wilson, in Beijing.
The mum-of-two, who is married to Olympic bronze medal-winning windsurfer Nick Dempsey, recently retired from competition to concentrate on family life.
“Although I won’t be taking part this time round, I’m still very much looking forward to the Olympics,” said Sarah.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed watching.
“My husband will be competing, so I’ll be cheering him on as well as the other members of our team.”