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Looking back at Olympic sailing success

4th April 2008
Looking back at Olympic sailing success
Although sailing's record was overlooked at home in the sports pages over Easter it coincided with a string of strong results abroad that have
resurrected sailing's Olympic spirit.
Sports journalists referred to Sonia O’Sullivan’s attempt to surpass the record for participating at four consecutive Games but did not mention sailing’s proud account.

David Wilkins and Jamie Wilkinson have Silver medals from 1980 to match the Cork athlete.

Mark Mansfield shares the same 20 year campaign as O’Sullivan.

Wilkins has five Summer appearances, though not consecutive, but this legacy was ignored by the media.

Lean times since Moscow might account for sailing's lack of recognition. The Wharton report published in 2005 into sailing's under performance in Athens
represented an all time low since Ireland's first participation in 1948 in London.

But thankfully a series of recent results from the next generation of Olympic aspirants is turning the page on a chapter of low Olympic morale.

For the first time since Barcelona 1992 team selection for Beijing has become a committee decision rather than a results only process.

The good news started with both Finn and 470 campaigns securing places in 2007 and it continued this Easter with Ciara Peelo’s comeback in the Laser Radial Women’s World Championship in New Zealand to secure Ireland a place in Xingdao.

In Palma at the Princes Sofia event both these crews fared in the top third of their strong fleets all operating at full speed. Gerald Owens and Philip Lawton (470) finished 12th and Tim Goodbody in the Finn finished 17th.

In ten days time three Irish crews will be looking for a keelboat slot at the Star world championships in Miami to bring, if successful, an Olympic squad total to four boats, one short of Athens.

In youth progress, a week after Peelo's result, Annalise Murphy finished fifth overall in the Laser Radial Youth World Championships at the same New
Zealand venue.

In the boys division, Chris Penny finished 13th completing a successful team
trip to the other side of the world.

The brace of results allowed an upbeat report to the Irish Sailing
Association (ISA) from its director James O’Callaghan whose
focus is on bringing youth talent to Olympic level rather than the youth
world championships as a goal in itself.

Mindful of managing expectations O'Callaghan knows the results are nothing
like those secured by David Burrows or Mansfield in the run up to Sydney or
Athens. At that time both sailors secured Bronze medals at their respective
class championships in Olympic year.

So although there is a sense of O’Callaghan trying to gather a harvest while
it is still Spring it is done for the right reasons and there is a positive
vibe in Irish Olympic sailing, the first for a quite a while.
Published in Editors Blog Team

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