The British sailing line-up for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been completed today, with the announcement of sailor selections in the Laser Radial, 49er and 2.4mR events.
The British Olympic Association has confirmed the RYA’s nominations of Alison Young, who will make her Olympic debut in the Laser Radial event, and Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who gain their second Olympic Games call-up in the 49er class, while Helena Lucas joins the ParalympicsGB ranks in the one-person 2.4mR event.
These four sailors complete the full complement of 16 sailors to compete across ten events on the Olympic sailing programme (29 July-11 August), and six sailors across three events at the Paralympic sailing competition (1-6 September), which will be held in Weymouth and Portland, where the final British selections were unveiled today.
Medal potential in every event
Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager and Sailing Team Leader for the 2012 Games said:
“We’ve now got 13 teams in the 13 events – Olympic and Paralympic – and as we go into the Games, I can honestly say hand on heart that we’ve got people who’ve got potential to medal in every single event – we’ve never had that before. That doesn’t mean to say that we’ll medal in every event – far from it – but in terms of preparing a good team the sailors have done an incredible job to date. Having teams selected at this stage provides us with an opportunity for them to pull together to bond as a group and really allow that to add an extra dimension to their preparation in the last weeks up until the Games.”
“Stevie and Ben are obviously past Olympians and they have been World Championship medallists. They were unfortunate at the World Championship in Perth that through injury they weren’t able to take part. They had a great Sail for Gold Regatta on the Olympic field last summer where they medalled, and they just missed out on the medals at the Olympic Test Event. We’re confident that with the experience they’ve got and a home venue track record, they’ll be able to pull it all together and really deliver when it counts.”
“With Ali Young in the Laser Radial it was a tough decision, as they all are, but as she’s been the more consistent of our performers across the trials events. Certainly in the stronger wind events she’s one of the fastest and most consistent sailors in the world and that didn’t go unnoticed by the Selection Committee. Again we wanted to give Ali the confidence of a selection at this stage so that she and her coach Hugh Styles can really begin to focus on the Games and build her game and her focus on the local venue.”
“Helena will be a double Paralympian, so she’s got that Paralympic experience under her belt now and has worked tirelessly within the 2.4mR, which is the most competitive of the Paralympic events, to get herself to be a consistent podium performer and to be challenging particularly the Dutch and the French who are, if you like, the incumbents on the podium. She’s managed to do that successfully recently – she was unfortunate to miss out on a podium position at the World Championships in 2012 but she did succeed in 2011 and indeed she’s won two medals at the last two World Cup regattas so I’m confident that she is on track and will deliver a great performance on what is her home waters here in Weymouth and Portland later this summer.”
The most successful sailing nation
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: “As the most successful sailing nation in Olympic history it is very exciting to have now selected a full squad of 16 sailors to compete for Team GB across all 10 medal events at the London 2012 Olympics. We welcome Stevie, Ben and Alison to One Team GB and look forward to supporting them to produce their very best performance when it counts most this summer at the fantastic Weymouth and Portland sailing venue.”
Craig Hunter, Chef de Mission for ParalympicsGB, said: “Today’s selection of Helena Lucas completes a very exciting line-up for the ParalympicsGB sailing team. I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate not just Helena, who has fought hard for her place in ParalympicsGB and who’s determination has paid off today, but also all the sailors who have continued to achieve excellent international results since their selection.”
“Last year, the sailors were the first of any British athletes to achieve the honour of being selected to the Olympic or Paralympic teams for London 2012. It is now just over 100 days to go, and I would really encourage the British public to support our sailors when they take to water at Weymouth and Portland at the Paralympic Games.”
Back for a second Games
Stevie Morrison (born Eastbourne, now living Exmouth) said: “We’re really happy of course - it’s a massive honour to be selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games, and even more so for a home Olympics.
“It does feel very different this time to four years ago – we were one of the first teams to be selected for Beijing and back then we felt like we kicked the doors down and left the selectors no scope to do anything other than select us. That led to a lot of expectation going into the Games and probably pressure on ourselves that we didn’t realise at the time was there.
“This time around the things have been very different – the trials have been a lot closer but we always believed that we were the best team to deliver gold in Weymouth in 2012 and our track record in the venue over recent years supports that. We’ve learnt a lot about our sailing, about the Olympics and about ourselves since Beijing which we feel will put us in much better place to do the business at these Games.
Ben Rhodes (born Southampton, now living Exmouth) said: “We’re massively psyched – it’s a privilege to be selected for Team GB and for us it’s a huge chance to try and put right the mistakes we made in China. That’s what we’ve been motivated by for the past four years – we don’t want to go through that disappointment again.”
“Selection at this stage is fantastic. We have a huge level of competition in the British 49er fleet, but gaining selection now will allow us to take advantage of the all opportunities that we have of it being a home Games. We’ve always carried out our programme and the things we need to work on as though we had been selected – I think that’s the only way you can really go about it so for us while selection is great, it’s still business as usual – nothing changes.”
Olympic Games debut
Alison Young (born Bewdley, Worcs, now living Portland) “I was pretty stunned when I found out, but it’s pretty cool to be selected for an Olympic Games, and for a home Games it’s even more exciting. There’s a lot of experience on the team, and a lot of knowledge so hopefully I’ll be able to tap into some of that experience to help me at my first Games.”
“There’s a lot of work to do now that I’ve been selected to push to get into the medals, and that’s what I’m aiming to do, so that I can put in the best result I can. My strengths have always been in the breeze, mostly down to my fitness and now technique as well, but my light wind game is developing and my decision-making is developing as well so I’ll keep pushing those forward and hopefully the hard work in those areas will keep moving me onwards and upwards ready for the summer.
Helena Lucas (born Redhill, now living in Portland) said: “I’m really delighted to be part of the team, especially with it being a home Games it just adds that extra little bit of excitement to the whole thing.”
“Home advantage will hopefully give us a little bit of a push in the right direction, and I think the support that we’re going to get with it being a home Games is going to be amazing. I was disappointed in Beijing with the result, but I think I learnt some very valuable lessons which I’ve brought into this campaign and which hopefully will make sure I get a medal this time.”
“It would be absolutely amazing to be able to win a Paralympic medal, and to be able to do it in front of family and friends and a home crowd would be something really special. I think these Games, both in terms of Paralympic sailing and the Paralympics in general , will be one of the best Paralympic Games ever just because the British support and interest in Paralympic sport has been fantastic, and the country seems to be really enthused and motivated by the athletes. We’re going to have quite a special Games.”