Laugh­ing all the way to Rio

CityPress - - Sport -

“I have achieved my dream and qual­i­fied for the Rio Olympics.”

With these sim­ple words, South Africa’s Ste­fano Mar­cia an­nounced on his Face­book page that he had qual­i­fied for a slot in the Men’s Laser class event at the Olympics later this year.

Mar­cia is com­pet­ing in the Laser World Cham­pi­onships in Mex­ico to work on his over­all per­for­mance and is aim­ing for a top-35 fin­ish to boost his chances of do­ing well in Rio.

He is in 39th po­si­tion in the World Cham­pi­onships and wants to im­prove his world rank­ing of 81st.

Given that South African sailors are not backed by a na­tional fed­er­a­tion or a na­tional squad, Mar­cia’s achieve­ment is massive.

Most of the sailors on the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit who are se­ri­ous about qual­i­fy­ing for the Olympics are part of a na­tional squad, which is backed by fed­er­a­tions and gov­ern­ments and which in­cludes back-up per­son­nel, coaches, on-wa­ter as­sis­tance and more.

For South African sailors, this is sim­ply not part of the deal as they are known as “pri­va­teers” on the cir­cuit – do­ing their own thing, of­ten fund­ing them­selves and op­er­at­ing as in­di­vid­u­als.

Two other South Africans, the McNeill broth­ers, Rudy and Mike, who were com­pet­ing in the same event, qual­i­fied for the bronze fleet in 136th and 157th places over­all.

At this stage, only two other South African sail­ing teams have an op­por­tu­nity to qual­ify for the Olympics.

They are the Men’s 470 team of Ase­n­athi Jim and Roger Hud­son, and the 49er Skiff team of Graeme Will­cox and An­drew Tar­boton.

– Staff re­porter

MAK­ING WAVES South Africa’s Olympic sail­ing hope­ful, Ste­fano Mar­cia

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