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Cook sets sail on Olympic dream

Canberra rower turned sailor Sarah Cook.

Canberra rower turned sailor Sarah Cook. Photo: Colleen Petch

Two-time Olympic rower Sarah Cook will use the national championships and her first international competition to prove she can be a force in sailing at Rio in 2016.

Cook has taken the first big step in her transition on the water by being added to the Sailing Australia squad for this year. It's a solid boost for the 28-year-old who began sailing just four months ago.

Now she's aiming for a national title in Port Stephens this week to show she's on track to make her Rio Olympic Games dream a reality.

''We haven't done a lot of sailing over the summer, but I seem to be progressing and I've come a long way,'' Cook said. ''We're getting stronger and stronger, it's a hard time because you don't want to set too many performance goals. But just because I'm new to the sport, it doesn't mean I'm happy to lose.

''The No.1 characteristic of an Olympic athlete is you want to win and that's what you aim for. So that's the goal for the national championships and hopefully we get there.''

Because Cook is yet to make her international debut, she is unsure on how much funding she will receive with partner Elise Rechichi.

But the duo will go to Italy to test themselves against international competitors before aiming for the world championships at the end of July. If successful, Cook could get top-tier funding to boost her Olympic bid.

The Beijing and London Olympian made a decision last year to step out of her rowing comfort zone and try something new to invigorate her career.

She admits it's been a tough transition with plenty of spills and falls while sailing in the 49er FX class.

''From what I've been told, a top-20 finish after my limited time at the world championship would be amazing,'' Cook said.

''But Elise and I are setting the goals higher, we want a top-10 finish.

''It's a race against the clock to get as skilled as I can get up to speed with everything that goes on in the boat. I don't want to set a limit, top 20 would be great but top 10 is the goal.''

Cook said the next six months would be crucial. ''The world championships will determine if we can get all the way or not,'' she said. ''But the rate of progression and improvement has astounded Elise and myself.''

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