Hailing from Murray’s Bay sailing club on Auckland’s North Shore Alex Maloney developed a love for the water at a young age. Part of a sailing family Alex is now set to fulfill a long dream of competing at the Olympics in the 49FX boat with Molly Meech. With a world championship title and world cup wins under their belt Alex and Molly know that they have got what it takes to triumph in Rio. They have spent a lot of time on the water in Rio over the last four years and are excited about the prospect of delivering a performance to be proud of. Alex is a hard working skipper who loves the physical and mental challenge that sailing brings….and always has a bubbly smile on her face to boot…..
When did you first want to go to the Olympics?
I started competitive sailing when I was 13 but I have sailed all my life. I think seeing a few key female role models in the sport, hearing their stories and then them being so welcoming in the sport I probably didn’t start thinking about going to the Olympics until I was about 16. I’ve always loved the sport. Once it became a goal it has been my main focus for quite a well now.
What does it mean to you to be an Olympian?
It’s really special for Molly and I. It’s been a goal for the last 6 years and a dream since I was a kid. So yes it’s definitely a really special feeling. I’m excited and ready to go and experience it now.
How do you feel as a female athlete representing NZ?
You kind of go about your training and your sailing but then you hear about kids wanting to ask you questions or their parents approach us and it’s kind of cool. It’s a chance to do them proud and inspire them. That’s a really cool opportunity to have. Bearing that in mind I just hope that we represent them, our local clubs and New Zealand well. It’s a cool opportunity to just sail our best and come home with cool stories to share.
Apart from sailing itself how do you prepare to be at your best on the water?
I guess we have been competing seriously now at an Olympic level for 4 years ever since the 49FX was announced as a new Olympic class. We have both learnt what gets us into our best head space. For me it’s making sure I can think clearly – so I really enjoy doing yoga before sailing. It’s not so much for me about meditation but just mindfulness really. In the evening I enjoy just chilling out like talking to friends on social media or reading a book or just seeing other sailing friends is really helpful for me to just zone out.
When you walk out to compete in Rio what will be the last thing you tell yourself?
I’m sure I’ll be quite nervous on the first race day but hopefully as the week goes on we’ll get into our routine and it all becomes a bit more normal. We have a catch word that our first coach Nathan Handley (who now coaches Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie). His big word is composure. When things get s little bit hairy and it gets a bit windy out there we say it to each other. It’s a bit cheesy but it works for as. I’ll go back to that in my head but it will all be new and we shall see.
What will you have for breakfast before you compete in Rio?
Oats and maybe fruit because the fruit in Rio is great.
Aside from life as an elite athlete what else makes you get out of bed in the morning?
I love the lifestyle. Sailing has become such a huge part of my life ever since the youth and junior sailing days. A lot of my mates are sailors. I love doing the fitness side of our training that helps prevent injury as a skipper. The travel is really inspiring to me. We are so fortunate to travel to a lot of cool places in the world and that’s a huge part of our sport in terms of experiencing the conditions before we race. The whole lifestyle which comes with being a sailor is great. My friends and family are also hugely important.
What’s your ideal rest day?
Sunday rest day:) Going for a walk with friends, family and my dog is perfect. Just chilling out reading and I love seeing my friends.
If you weren’t dominating the sporting world what would you be doing?
I started doing a psychology degree and I hope to finish that degree however I’m not sure if I really want to work in that profession but I probably would have gone down the university pathway. It’s funny I started doing my degree with a good friend and it’s been interesting to see how our different paths have been taken.
Finally, if you had the chance to acknowledge someone who has helped you get to this point in your sporting career who would it be and why?
There’s a lot of people that helped us get to this point from family to junior coaches. There’s a lot of people who have made sacrifices for us along the way. For me though my Dad, Jim Maloney is the one. He was kind of involved at Junior level for a while and he has stepped in to coach us full time 2 years ago. He’s been traveling with us during this time. It’s an interesting dynamic having your father as your coach but he’s always been there for us in the background and was willing to coach us full time. He’s put a lot aside for us. But also my Mum is amazing because she’s a teacher so she’s at home by herself a lot when we’re traveling. Also Caroline Brisbois from HPSNZ has been a huge help.
Photo Credit: Alex and Molly Sailing Facebook