Laughing all the way to Rio
“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