Britain’s most successful female windsurfer Bryony Shaw says she can take inspiration from Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis-Hill and return to the Olympic podium as a new mum.
The 34-year-old, the only British woman to have won an Olympic medal in the RS:X class, gave birth to son Jaddek in June.
She made her return to the water in Miami for the second round of the World Cup Series in January and has made no secret of her desire to be a medal contender come Tokyo 2020.
Ennis-Hill backed up her London 2012 heptathlon gold with a silver medal in Rio four years later, despite taking time out to have her son Reggie, in 2014.
Shaw, who claimed a bronze in Beijing in 2008, sees no reason why she cannot replicate Ennis-Hill’s seamless transition back to the top of her sport. She said: “Jessica did a great job and it is something that is really inspiring to me and hopefully I can be an inspiration to others too. There’s examples in my own sport too - there’s so much knowledge now about post-pregnancy in sports. It’s a big decision. If I didn’t feel success was on the horizon I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Shaw added: “Since stepping away (after finishing ninth at Rio 2016) there are a lot of new faces. It will be interesting to see how I contend with them all!”
Shaw, a three-time World Championship silver medallist, was unable to drag herself away from the water despite being heavily pregnant last summer.
The 2015 European champion pictured herself stand-up paddleboarding just a month and a half before giving birth to Jaddek and claims “it kept my soul happy”.
“That thrill of catching a wave is the same for any surfer,” said Shaw, who finished seventh at London 2012 despite suffering with illness.
“It’s something that kept me active and it’s something I enjoyed previously. When you paddle into the waves you have to be dynamic with your lower body.”
Shaw, who recently became engaged to American sailor Brad Funk and now lives in the Dominican Republic, is looking for a top-five placing at the World Championships in August.
“There’s a trajectory I’ve set towards that event,” she added. “I’ve mapped it out, all the little stepping stones along the way.
“My personal hope is for the top five. That’s quite realistic, that’s within my grasp, but if I did medal that would be incredible.”