Israel's 20-year-old windsurfing phenom has sights set on the Olympics
Coming in second at the World Championships, Katy Spychakov is on track to medal in Tokyo next summer.
As a child, Katy Spychakov kept her parents busy. She took up rhythmic gymnastics at just 4 years old. By 6, she was already competing in triathlons. And by 10, she had entered the sport of windsurfing.
But Spychakov didn't just want to compete; she wanted to excel. And to do that, she needed to choose one sport and focus on that. "In the end, I had to choose one because it was just too many trainings and I could not fit it in my schedule," she told From The Grapevine. She went with windsurfing which, apparently, has worked out well for her. By 14, she finished second in her age group at the World Championships, and she hasn't stopped since. If all goes as planned, she's just months away from competing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo next summer.
Katy Spychakov will find out in February if she's headed to the Olympics. (Photo: Robert Hajduk / ShutterSail)
"I'm super happy about it," said the 20-year-old native Israeli. "I really like the sea and going really fast, being disconnected from the people on shore."
2019 has been her best year yet. She's racked up scores of medals, including two silver medals and a bronze at international competitions in Miami and Japan. In Italy last month, she won the silver medal at the World Championships. She is also a gold medal recipient in the "Under 21" category. Asked where she keeps all this bling in the home she shares with her parents and three siblings, she laughed. "I have a big chest in the living room of our family home to put everything inside. But I need to think of a new place because I have no more space."
At left, Katy Spychakov after winning the silver medal at the World Championships in Italy last month. At right, celebrating with gold medal winner Yunxiu Lu of China. (Photo: Courtesy of Katy Spychakov)
Mathematically, she's the highest-ranking athlete on Israel's female windsurfing team. But a determination of who Israel will send to the Olympics won't be made until the completion of one more tournament in New Zealand in February. At that point, it will be a coach's decision.
Pierre Loquet is the coach of the Israeli women's windsurfing elite team, which is made of up of four athletes. "Katy is a remarkable athlete in her discipline and her willingness to succeed," Loquet told us. "I’m really proud of the teamwork with the four girls, and Katy definitely acts like an example. She is talented and she knows it’s not enough. She works really hard and learns extremely fast."
He added: "She enjoys what she does, and has a clear vision on her target. Before the final race of the World Championship she was relaxed, confident and focused. It’s impressive to see a young athlete already able to step into the zone and perform."
Katy Spychakov and her coach Pierre Loquet at the 2019 RS:X Windsurfing World Championships in Italy last month. (Photo: Robert Hajduk / ShutterSail)
The next nine months leading up to the Olympics will be a lot of work for Spychakov, who trains for about 25 hours each week. Thankfully, her hometown of Eilat in southern Israel is the perfect place to train. The Red Sea has very few waves, producing ideal conditions for windsurfing. Also, the temperate winters there allow Spychakov to train through the next few months while her fellow European compatriots are stuck in the cold. "Eilat is amazing for us," she said.
Spychakov is taking all her recent success in stride and realizes there's still a long way to go. "Going to the Olympics is on my to-do list," she told us. "It would be a dream come true."
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