Although holding an unassailable lead heading into the final leg of the men’s one-person dinghy Laser race, Australia’s Matt Wearn’s Tokyo 2020 gold medal dream was officially confirmed today.
In his debut Olympic Games, Wearn, who’s been representing Australia since 2005, achieved a lifelong dream of winning a gold medal on the sport’s biggest stage.
The win also cements a third-consecutive gold medal win in the Laser event for Australia after Tom Slingsby at London 2012 and Tom Burton at Rio 2016.
A former world number one, ranked 44th in the world heading into this year’s Olympic Games, the West Australian ended the 10th race on Day 7 of Tokyo 2020 in first position with 49 net points, 22 points ahead of Norway’s Hermann Tomasgaard.
It meant, going into the final race that was whittled down to 10 competitors, Wearn only needed to finish and avoid disqualification, in a race where the medal event’s points count as double.
Although Wearn didn’t need to finish at the top of the field, he also didn’t look like taking a step back and slowing down, finishing second in the medal race, securing four points to end the event with 53 points. In the final standings, it was 29 points in front of Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic who won silver, three points ahead of Tomasgaard for bronze.
The Laser event, which works on points based on an individual’s finishing position, takes away someone’s worst performance of 11 races. Wearn’s worst result was when he finished 28th in the second race, which was a lower-ranked finish than his 17th-placed finish to begin the first leg.
After Wearn’s first two races where he was in the back-half of the pack, across races three to eight, he finished no lower than fourth including finishing three legs in second and two legs in first place. Despite a 12th and eighth in his previous two races going into the deciding race, Wearn still held claim to a medal.
In each of Wearn’s top-four finishes, he never finished more than 13 seconds behind his higher-placed competitors for those races and in his two legs where he finished top, he was in front by nine and 24 seconds in races seven and eight respectively.
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First representing Australia in 2005 at the Singapore Optimist Nationals, the 25-year-old has finished second at the Laser World Championships in the past three iterations and a bronze at the 2017 World Championships and now adds an Olympic Gold Medalist to his name.
Wearn’s coach at Tokyo 2020, former Sydney 2000 bronze medallist Michael Blackburn also led Burton and Slingsby to their respective gold medals also.
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