Thompson eyeing up Tokyo as Laser World Championships begin

A hat-trick of world crowns could be just a few days away for Nick Thompson, but the Rio 2016 Olympian is already keeping more than half an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Today sees the 31-year-old take to the Croatian waters for the start of the 2017 ILCA Laser Standard Men's World Championship, undoubtedly the man to beat having lifted the title in 2015 and 2016.

It is those victories that have unsurprisingly been the main source of confidence for Thompson and, with his path to Tokyo already plenty of steps along, that is something he is hopeful of tapping into once more.

But more pertinently, the Southampton sailor is also fuelled by missing out on a medal in Rio, finishing sixth on his Olympic debut despite have strong hopes of making the podium.

“Winning the first world title was huge for me, I had previously taken two bronze and two silver medals so to take the step up was massively rewarding,” Thompson said.

“To then take the title again the following year really cemented my confidence and that has been with me since.

“The year for me post-Games has been about making changes, I have been trying to break my sailing down and get a good grasp on where improvements can be made.

“Ultimately the last campaign went well with two World championship titles but falling short in Rio shows there is much more to be had.”

Thompson will be one of eight British Sailing Team athletes in the 148-strong fleet at Split, with he the undoubted leader of the pack heading to Croatia.

But with Olympic champion Tom Burton and silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic also set to compete, this is a challenge in which the British star will undoubtedly have his work cut out.

The 31-year-old insists this week is not the be all and end all however, still confident of putting in a good showing in what remains a strong field – even a year on from Rio.

“This World Championship is clearly about defending my title but I'm under no illusions that when you try to make changes the result doesn't always come immediately, so I have to think long term," he added.

“Preparations for this world title have mostly been about the bigger picture of the Tokyo Olympics, but the nature of that is that I'm spending lots of time on the water so that should also see me well for this Worlds.

“There are plenty of people that could take the title if they bring their ‘A’ game all week. It's been fascinating to see how the fleet has kept nearly all its depth in the post Olympics year.

“The British Sailing Team Laser squad is in a good place, it's been a while since we had some good depth with Goody [Paul Goodison] and I having to spend most of our time training elsewhere. This depth has meant that I always have a solid squad to train with.” Sportsbeat 2017

British Sailing Team line-up for the 2017 Laser World Championship:

Nick Thompson

Elliot Hanson

Lorenzo Chiavarini

Michael Beckett

Jack Wetherell

Dan Whiteley

Sam Whaley

Jack Cookson