USA Sonar Team Selected for 2016 Paralympic Games
Published on April 27th, 2016
(April 27, 2016) – Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), Brad Kendell (Tampa, Fla.) and Hugh Freund (South Freeport, Maine) have earned selection to the Rio 2016 U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team based on the results of the US Sailing Paralympic Athlete Selection Series in the Sonar three-person keelboat.
The trio have been the top-performing American Sonar team since London 2012, and have earned medals at several of the world’s premier adaptive sailing events. This will be the second Team USA appearance for Doerr, who competed at Beijing 2008, and the first career Paralympic Games for Kendell and Freund.
“It’s been a long journey since 2008, and this seems to be a culmination of our efforts, though we have a lot of work left to do,” said Doerr. “It’s really exciting that we finally put everything together, and sailed a really good year [of regattas] to make this happen.”
Doerr, a 2007 Disabled Sailing World Champion in the Sonar, is the longest-tenured member of the US Sailing Team, with over sixteen years on the roster. Doerr, Kendell and Freund have been sailing as a team for the past seven years, and finished second by a narrow margin in the London 2012 Paralympic Selection Series.
Since that first campaign together, Doerr, Kendell and Freund have achieved a new level of consistency and speed under coach Mike Ingham (Rochester, N.Y.), who has won over 20 national and continental championships in his career.
The team has won five medals at Sailing World Cup Miami, North America’s premier Olympic and Paralympic classes regatta, in the past seven years. In 2015 the three Sonar athletes won the Sunbrella Golden Torch Award in Miami, given to the top-performing American boat at the event. Doerr, Kendell and Freund were the first Paralympic-class athletes to gain this distinction in the 26-year history of the event.
“Our confidence level right now is super high,” said Freund, a 2011 graduate of Roger Williams University, who began his Paralympic sailing career while still an undergraduate student. “We’re working better together as a team than we have at any point in the years we’ve been together. We’ve got a ton of training camps planned, and every regatta that we can sail in, we will sail in. We’re making sure we maximize our training opportunities on the water [both] at home and in Rio.”
“We’ve been working really hard, and the next month in going to be really busy,” said Kendell, who will compete with him teammates at Sailing World Cup Hyères in France this week, and at the Para World Sailing Championships in the Netherland in late May. “We’ll be in and out of different countries, and our hometowns. We want to medal at each event we enter, and to be winning [consistently] going into the Paralympics.”
Challenging for a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic regatta will represent the fulfillment of a long-held dream, said Freund. “It’s going to be a great feeling to be the team representing the U.S., with our country behind us and our flag above us.”
Source: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing