US Sail­ing hires Mal­colm Page to lead Olympic team

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

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

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