Monday, November 29, 1999

Australian PM welcomes youngest around-the-world sailor

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Sydney, May 16 (IANS) Tens of thousands of well-wishers, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, welcomed back on to dry land at Sydney Harbour 16-year-old Jessica Watson who Saturday became the youngest sailor to complete a solo journey around the globe circumnavigating 23,000 nautical mile.It was the first time the Queenslander had stepped off her boat, Ella's Pink Lady, since she set off on her 210-day solo voyage Oct 18, Australian news agency AAP reported.She was hailed 'Australia's newest hero' by Rudd.But Jessica said: 'I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her dream.'Jessica said she was 'overwhelmed' by the reception and was looking forward to washing her hair, eating fresh fruit and going for a jog along the beach at her home town of Mooloolaba.The teenager, who will celebrate her 17th birthday May 18, said she would love to do more sailing in the future but would be concentrating on 'slightly more normal things' in the next few years, such as school and learning to drive.

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