When the single female sailor enters Beijing's Olympic stadium on August 8th she'll be hoisting a flag and not a sail, but far from being a distraction from regatta preparations, Peelo maintains the Opening Ceremony will be the biggest boost to her campaign by far.
'It is the greatest honour imaginable' she says 'because I'm carrying the pride of the country'.Named by the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) as Ireland's flag bearer, the
Dubliner recognises the significance of the honour and the fact that it is
also Irish sailing's first chance to carry the flag.
Until now sailing has only ever carried the flag at the closing ceremony and
that was as recently as Athens when Mark Mansfield closed a chapter on a
20–year campaign in the Star keelboat.
Peelo's nomination is an insightful move by the OCI, being a timely
acknowledgement of sailing's proud Olympic tradition stretching back to the
London Games of 1948, and including a Silver medal from Moscow 1980.
Peelo is a debutante and the boat she is sailing, the 4-metre-long Laser
4.7, is also making its first Olympic appearance.
This trip is not Peelo's introduction to China though, she posted her best
international result on the Yellow sea - eighth overall - at the Olympic
test event in 2007.
The PE teacher's home port is Malahide's Broadmeadow estuary where she was one of the first to race a radial in Ireland, and from early days was known
for her light air speed - a commodity that should prove invaluable on the
notoriously tricky waters off Qingdao.
The Olympic Games may be uncharted waters but flag bearing is not, in fact,
it is a lucky omen. She carried the tricolour at the world sailing youth
championships (sailing's youth Olympics) in 1996, crewing for Laura Dillon,
and won a bronze medal.