How Australian became top sailing nation at London 2012

Photo: On Edition
Yachting Australia CEO Phil Jones tells us about the Aussie Olympic sailing effort
Australia’s supreme effort in the sailing at London 2012 went according to plan for the first time in three Olympiads. After they bombed eight years ago in Athens, returning home with no medals, a new program was put in place, simply entitled ‘the Gold Medal Plan’, to rectify this. This came right in part in Beijing with golds in both 470 classes, but their sailors falling disappointingly short of the podium in both the Lasers and 49ers. But for London 2012 the form book prevailed. As the Australian Sailing Team’s High Performance Director Peter Conde put it on Saturday: “We thought we could come away with three golds. We did that - we came away with three golds and a silver. I think we can say ‘mission accomplished’.” If Olympic sailing is supposed to be one of the most competitive pinnacles within our sport, it remains something of a mystery how there could be four stand-out teams going into London 2012? While Team GBR had Ben Ainslie in the Finn, Australia had the other three: Tom Slingsby in the Laser, Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen in the 49er and Mat Belcher/Malcolm Page in the Men’s 470. 470 double gold medallists Malcolm Page gave us his thoughts on this: “The system we have in place is the key to that. The Australian sailing team was reborn seven years ago and it was very green and new for Beijing, although we did get some success there. We are a lot more mature now, another four years down the track and we’ve refined things and that’s why we are where we are today. “Leading into the Games we said we had three Gold medal strong chances and a potential fourth medal outside of that. To just deliver that under this pressured situation in the environment we are