10:30am Saturday 11th August 2012
BRITISH sailing team leader Stephen Park is ‘happy’ with the performance of his squad despite losing the title of the world’s best sailing nation.
Park, known as Sparky by his team, said: “We have managed to hit the target we set at the beginning of the event, a medal target of four from our 10 events, which we thought was reasonable.
“So to get five medals of course we are very pleased. We knew the competition was tough, that’s sport.
“To have come away with medals in 50 per cent of the events, we’ve got to be really happy with that.
“I suppose we are also conscious there were opportunities that slipped away from us when we were racing for gold.
“But on the whole I have got to be happy. We have done a pretty good job because we came into this event with the sailors who have results that prove that they are medal competitive.
“That’s really where you want to be if you want to be able to come away with medals in half of your events.”
He added: “It’s been great to have a mix of some of the more experienced sailors and some of the newcomers.
“It bodes really well for the future.”
Sparky said he hoped the fact Britain had ‘exceeded’ its target of four medals with a medal haul of one gold and four silver medals, would bode well for continued funding streams from UK Sport and commercial sponsors as they ‘continue to strive to be even more competitive in 2016’.
Australia are now the most successful Olympic sailing nation with three gold medals and have the potential to win another gold or silver in today in the women’s Match Racing final.
Sparky said: “We could potentially have been taking four golds and one silver or five golds and one silver.
“The United States had what they would describe as a shocking event and the French have only won one bronze medal.
“These are big sailing nations who have not managed to deliver on this particular event.
“And it’s not because their campaigns have been particularly poor, the US as a team would say their campaign was better than it’s been for a number of years.
“The margins are small.”
Sparky denied rumours that he was set to move on from being Royal Yachting Association Olympic manager.
He said with the Star, Elliott 6m and RS:X classes being replaced at the Rio Games by a women’s two-person high-performance Skiff, a mixed catamaran class and kiteboarding it heralded a new era of British sailing.
He added: “It’s likely the average age of the team will be going down rather than increasing, although I wouldn't write anybody off at this stage.
“The 470 teams include three first-time Olympians delivering medals.
“With that and the new events coming in it bodes well for the future.
“We were the top nation at a youth event last month in Ireland, we’ve got to keep working to bring that talent through.”
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