NZHerald 4/12/2011: The Pole-turned-Kiwi is our leading hope in the women's boardsailing, a discipline where New Zealand has a solid pedigree. The 1999 world youth champion, she went on to enjoy some senior success before packing her board away in 2005. She finished 38th at the 2010 world championships, 21st at a world cup regatta in April, 16th at Sail for Gold at Weymouth in June and 10th at the Olympic test event at the same venue a month later. Her well planned schedule was hampered by a nasty training accident earlier this year, when she broke her leg sailing off Takapuna.
"There was a collision and - Natalia snapped another guy's mast with her leg." Unfortunately the injury was misdiagnosed as 'heavy bruising'. Kosinska trained for two more weeks but felt continuous pain; a subsequent X-ray confirmed a broken fibula.
She carries a world ranking of 32, up from 91 in August last year, but that paints a false picture in terms of the Olympics, with each country limited to one sailor.
The 30-year-old has tried different hand positions and experimented with her rigging, while occasional practice partner Tom Ashley has provided some invaluable tips. "I was always slower on one side," says Kosinska, "so he showed me how to apply more pressure on the front arm, which enables you to stand more upright and go faster. He has also helped with keeping the board flat in choppy water."
Kosinska has spent the last month in Perth, training with current world champion Blanca Manchon of Spain and beating her occasionally.
To prepare for the windy conditions, Kosinska has given herself licence to pile on some pounds, mainly through the use of supplements and also indulging her sweet tooth.
She has enjoyed catching up with her old Polish team-mates (the East European nation has three women in the top 15) and finding her way round the one of the world's most livable cities. She admits to feeling "a bit stressed", especially as nearest Kiwi rival Steffanie Williams (world ranked 39) has come into career best form and is lightning quick in the heavy air.
The women's boardsailing starts tomorrow, with the men's event (featuring Ashley and Tobin) under way next Monday.
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