Tauranga sailors selected for 2020 Olympics
Three Tauranga sailors out of seven have been selected to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for New Zealand
The sailors are the first of around 200 New Zealand athletes expected to be selected over the coming months, becoming part of what is likely to be New Zealand's largest Olympic Team ever.
The sailing team has significant Olympic Games experience and includes Tauranga’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who led the New Zealand Team into the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and went on to win gold in the 49er.
Tauranga locals Molly Meech and her brother Sam have also been named in the team.
Sam Meech was among the medallists in Rio and has been one of the world’s best Laser sailors over the past four years.
The 28-year-old is excited to be given the opportunity to represent New Zealand at a second Olympic Games.
“It’s so cool to represent your country,” he says. “We do so many regattas but the Olympic Games is special because it feels like you’re sailing for more than yourself.
“I didn’t really know what to expect in Rio. I tried talking to a number of people to get an idea of what it was going to be like but you never really know until you experience it. There’s so much going on outside of the sailing and I can’t wait to experience it again.”
Molly Meech and Alex Maloney named today are Rio 2016 49erFX silver medallists.
Nacra 17 sailors Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson are the only Olympic newcomers in the initial sailing selection announcement, with further crews to be considered for selection to the New Zealand Team following a series of upcoming World Championships.
“We are just so excited to get this opportunity to go to the Olympic Games and show everyone what we are made of,” Dawson says.
“Wearing the silver fern means so much to us personally but we are also excited to wear it for our families and supporters who have believed in us all these years.
“We’ve both watched the Olympic Games on TV and seen our friends and peers compete so for us to get this opportunity is really special. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us to make sure we’re in the best shape possible at Games time.”
The seven athletes have been named to the New Zealand Team at a function at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in Auckland.
Burling and Tuke will be among the favourites to win gold in the 49er in Tokyo having added two 49er world titles in recent months to the four they won in the last Olympic cycle.
The remarkable pair, who took a couple of years off the Olympic class to sail in both the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race, also won last year’s OIympic Test Event at the Olympic venue in Enoshima.
New Zealand has a proud Olympic sailing legacy, having collected 22 medals since the first gold medal won by Peter Mander and Jack Cropp at Melbourne in 1956.
New Zealand sailors, Halmer Pedersen and Earle Wells, also secured gold at Tokyo 1964 in the Flying Dutchman and brought home a record-equalling four medals from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Sailing at Tokyo 2020 is due to get under way at Enoshima on July 24th and conclude on August 5.
New Zealand expects to be represented by more than 200 athletes across approximately 20 sports at Tokyo 2020.
Athletes will be named to the team between now and early July, with the Olympic Games to be held from July 24 to August 9.
Preparation for the Olympic Games is progressing with the New Zealand Team entering the final phase of operational planning and detailed process development.