Molly Meech started her life on the water so it's no surprise that's where her career has taken her as well. As part of the Behind the Name feature, we get to know the Bay of Plenty's talented athletes representing New Zealand internationally. Today, we find out more about 26-year-old New Zealand sailor Molly Meech, who combined with Alex Maloney, won silver in the 49erFX at the 2016 Rio Olympics - their first Olympics. She is part of the NZL Sailing Team, made up of the best Olympic class sailors in the country, but what would she be doing if she wasn't an athlete?
What is the first memory you have of sailing and how has that impacted your life?
My first memory of sailing would be back when my family lived on our boat, which was home for the first 10 years of my life. I think it led to me eventually following my brother Sam into sailing as a sport and now a career.
How did you get into sailing and what has kept you involved in the sport?
Really my brother Sam got into the sport first, but I followed him into it. When I first started, I was more of a social sailor, and enjoyed spending time with my friends out on the water. It led to me loving sailing and then the competitive side of the sport kicked in.
What is your sporting highlight to date and why?
My sporting highlight would have to be finishing second at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Alex (Maloney) and I had worked really hard in the five or six years leading up to it, and for it all to come together at the Games was so special. On top of that, Sam getting bronze in the Laser at the same Games was really amazing.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while sailing at any level?
It may actually be a recent situation, where we were going into our final medal race in Miami. We were heading into the finish of the race but missed the mark. We then had to drop the kite and head back upwind to the finish line - all the while it being streamed live coverage. A lot of people may not have noticed but for us it was pretty embarrassing. Felt a little like a rookie.
What has been the biggest injury suffered while undertaking your sport?
Touch wood I haven't had any really major injuries. I have had a few little niggles like shoulder and back issues but they are all things I have been able to rehab while still training and competing.
If you weren't an athlete, what do you think you'd be doing today and why?
I'm not entirely sure what I would be doing if I wasn't currently an athlete. I think I would possibly be working somewhere in the environmental sector.
When you're not sailing or training, how do you spend your time and why?
If I'm not training, you would either find me out on my parent's cruising boat, doing another outdoor activity like surfing, or just chilling out with a good book.
What was your very first job and what other jobs have you had in your lifetime?
My first job was waitressing at the Tauranga Yacht club. Other than that I have done a bit of coaching.
What is something you would tell your 16-year-old self and why?
Take the time to enjoy all the little things, and always try to say yes to opportunities out there. I think it's so easy to get caught up in the little setbacks or the small circle you operate in. It's good to remember that there are so many cool things to do in your life and if you always say no you close yourself off very quickly.
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What has been your biggest personal achievement and why?
Outside of sailing, my biggest achievement would be completing my degree alongside my sport. I think it opens your mind to what else there is outside of sport.
What five words do you think your closest friends would use to describe you and why?
Sporty, dedicated, caring, ambitious, balanced. I think my friends would say this about me as I have spent a large part of my life setting goals and committing to the journey of being a professional athlete. I really appreciate having my friends and family alongside me as they are a significant part of who I am and why I have come so far in my sporting career.
Where is your favourite place in the Bay and why?
My favourite place in the Bay would have to be the Mount. It has so many things to do, from surfing, the beach, climbing the Mount and it was also home for a little while.
Tell us something people may not know about you:
The only main one I can think of is that I have sailed around the world with my family when I was young.