Seven sailors selected to make Olympic debut in Tokyo

Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries (470). Australian Sailing Team competing at Ready Steady Tokyo Source: Australian Sailing Team

The Australian Olympic Committee has announced the first athletes to be selected in 2021 for the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo.

The announcement came on Thursday at the Middle Harbour Yacht Club, with 470 duo Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries called up to make their Olympic debut.

The pair had a breakout year in 2019 winning silver at the World Cup Series in Enoshima, and followed that up at the World Championships with a top 10 finish earning Australia quota for Tokyo.

In honour of their achievements Jerwood and de Vries were awarded Female Sailors of the Year in 2019 by Australian Sailing.

De Vries emphasised how honoured they are to be making their Olympic debut with such a great team to train with.

“We’ve been working towards this for a really long time, so it is just so special to have all of our hard work pay off in being selected,” she said.

“It’s really special to now be part of Australia’s Olympic heritage in sailing. Nia and I have had so many great influences from the team over the years, it’s just an honour to now join that.

“We consider ourselves the luckiest 470 team in the world – our coach in Perth Belinda Stowell is an Olympic gold medallist, we’ve had exposure to 2008 Women’s 470 gold medal winning team Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson and when in Sydney we train under Victor Kovalenko alongside [Olympic medallists and World Champions] Mat Belcher and Will Ryan.”

The Australian sailing team will include seven debutants and four medalists from 2016 in Rio.

The most prominent name to feature is Mathew Belcher, who won gold alongside Malcolm Page in the 470 class in 2012, and followed that up in 2016 with current partner Will Ryan where the duo won silver.

Belcher and Ryan have dominated at the World Championships since the pair formed, winning five World Championship Golds in 470 since 2013, with Belcher having an additional three to his name with former partner Page from 2010-2012.

Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse will be looking to do one better in the Nacra 17 class in 2021, chasing their first Olympic gold after being narrowly beaten by Argentian pair by one point in 2016 that saw the Australian pair take home silver. An Olympic Gold would be the first gold medal in a major event for Australia in the Nacra 17 class.

Jaime Ryan has made the switch from the 470 class to the 49er FX to compete alongside debutant Tess Lloyd at the 2021 Olympics. The pair teamed up in 2018 and have grown in the past three years with Lloyd attributing Ryan’s prior Olympic experience and knowledge to their natural chemistry.

Brothers Sam and William Phillips will make their Olympic debut in the 49er class. The Victorian pair has competed in three World Championships together, with a career-best finish of fifth in 2020, finishing inside the top ten in all three of their events in 2020.

At 22, Mara Stransky is the youngest member of the sailing team selected to go to Tokyo in July competing in the Laser-Radial class. Ranked 22nd in the world Stransky’s Olympic debut is off the back of a strong 2020 with a career-best finish of 18th at the World Championships in February.

The team is rounded out by a five-time World Championship medalist in Laser, Matt Wearn. Making his Olympic debut, Wearn hasn’t fallen off the World Championship podium throughout this past Olympic cycle and will be looking to maintain his current form heading into the Tokyo Games.

The Australian Olympic team will be looking to continue its dominance in sailing in Tokyo, having won gold in at least one event at the past three games.

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