US Sailing hires Malcolm Page to lead Olympic team
US Sailing is turning to twotime gold medalist Malcolm Page of Australia to try to turn around the American Olympic team’s sagging fortunes.
The national governing body hired Page as chief of Olympic sailing on Monday. Page won gold medals in the 470 class at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. That’s one more medal combined than the United States won in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. The Americans were shut out in 2012, the first time that happened since 1936, and won just one medal at the Rio Games in August, a bronze in the Finn class by Caleb Paine of San Diego.
Page said in a phone interview that standing on the Olympic podium representing Australia was one of his most special accomplishments.
But he’s wanted to get back to the performance side of the sport, and leading the US Olympic team was too good of a chance to pass up. “I’m a competitor,” he said. “I hate losing, and I’m excited to be here and to be involved and to assist. I’m looking forward to seeing these athletes realizing their dreams. I want to help them get to that point.” Page, who currently is head of marketing and media for World Sailing, replaces Josh Adams, who is leaving US Sailing to tend to his family business.
The United States has won the most Olympic sailing medals in history, 60, but the well-funded British team has quickly pulled within one. Plus, the Brits lead the Americans in gold medals, 28 to 19.
The United States dominated Olympic sailing in the 1980s and early 1990s before Britain, Australia and New Zealand began overtaking it.
US Sailing President Bruce Burton said there were American candidates for the job, but that Page “is a great fit for what we need” because he brings “a template” of the success the Australians had in rebuilding their Olympic program. Burton said the Australians hired top coaches, put together a strategic plan and found the money to compete at a high level.
The Australians were shut out in the 2004 Athens games despite having several world champions and top-ranked sailors on their team. “I was one of those world champions and world No. 1s leading into the games and I took a solid 12th,” Page said.
He said athletes initiated a review and the federation took over to restore the program. The Aussies responded with two golds and one silver at Beijing in 2008, and three golds and one silver in London, when the Aussies, including Page, outperformed the powerful British team.
Burton said US Sailing needed a different point of view. “We’ve been looking in the mirror quite a bit but we need a different picture,” he said. “We think we needed a little bit different perspective and we think Malcolm does a great job of bringing that perspective.”
US Sailing is working to direct more resources to the national team and a youth development effort. Including Paine, Americans finished in the Top-10 in six classes in Rio. “I think the potential in the US is through the roof and I mean that from so many different levels,” Page said. “It has a huge population and a huge talent base. That talent base hasn’t been lost even though you haven’t been as successful. And also the wealth potential, the funding potential, is there as well. We just need a cohesive approach and a cohesive team to pull it all together, which I do believe the journey started four years ago on that.” — AP