Lisa Darmanin

I started sailing when I was 9 years old with my brother Evan. I was so terrified, I used to hate going down to the sailing club every Sunday to tackle the elements. After months of trying to get around a race course, I finally made it around without capsizing, and slowly I started to really enjoy sailing. I enjoyed being free on the water and my love of sailing began.

I never thought I would take sailing further than the local club race or just for leisure, I wasn’t destined to be a great sailor but I was a hard worker and never gave up. When I was 16 my cousin asked me to try qualify for the Youth World Championships with him, mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t going to grow and I wasn’t too heavy! I was thrown in the deep end again and qualified for the Youth Worlds in 2008 and again in 2009 bringing home a Gold Medal. It was amazing feeling winning a World Championship as a result of a lot of hard work.

I really enjoyed working hard and getting results but once again I didn’t see myself taking it to Olympic level. My cousin was always destined to be an Olympian, I loved school and wanted to go to University and then the rare opportunity arose that my class of boat was introduced to the 2016 Rio Olympics. I was in the right place at the right time. There were so many people that told me I wouldn’t be strong enough, I wasn’t tall enough, I wasn’t good enough. But for me that didn’t matter because I knew I could work harder than any one. Four years later full of ups and down I stood on the podium with my cousin and was presented with a Silver Medal at the Olympic Games. It was an intense feeling of joy and relief.   In a way I’d proved to myself I could do anything I set my mind to.

Sometimes you set out on a path and things get thrown your way, the map changes and new opportunities arise. I’ve had the immense pleasure of visiting schools and sailing clubs around the country sharing my journey.

I’ve recently learned about NF and how it affects so many children and their families. These families work so hard every day just to keep life as normal as possible, but these people are incredible and any way I could give back, help out and spread the word about this rare disease is an opportunity and cause I can’t wait to be involved in.


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