Road to Tokyo Begins in China

Published on September 20th, 2016

Sailing World Cup Qingdao kicks off this week and is the first international Olympic class event since Rio 2016 Games, marking the start of the road to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

With racing on September 21 to 25, Sailing World Cup Qingdao is the fifth regatta of the 2016 World Cup series with 142 sailors from 21 nations competing across seven Olympic classes – 470 Men and Women, Laser Men and Radial Women, RS:X Men and Women, and Finn – at the home of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Among the sailors in attendance are Olympic medallists and rising stars of the sport making the journey from Europe, joining others from Asia and Oceania, to take part in what has always been an event showcasing the Chinese culture and growing popularity of sailing in country.

Qingdao welcomes Rio 2016 Laser silver medallist, Tonci Stipanovic, back to the Olympic scene in his first competitive outing since becoming the first Croatian to win an Olympic sailing medal.

In a hard fought battle with Australia’s Tom Burton, Stipanovic, claimed silver in a sailing competition that asked questions in every condition and situation on the waters of Guanabara Bay. Stipanovic will be buoyed for another medal in Qingdao.

Another Olympic medallist in the Laser fleet is Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides. The Cypriot returned home from London 2012 with a silver medal, his country’s first ever Olympic, to national fame and has won the Cypriot Sportperson of the Year award on more than one occasion. At Rio 2016 Kontides carried his nations flag at the Opening Ceremony before finishing seventh and he will be stiff competition for his training partner, Stipanovic in Qingdao.

One of the rising stars in the Laser fleet is Ireland’s Finn Lynch. Lynch became the youngest ever Irish sailing helmsman to qualify for the Olympic Games and has his sights now set firmly on Tokyo 2020. A win on the first step of that road in Qingdao will be a massive boost for the young Irishman.

Another sailor aiming for Tokyo 2020 is Hungary’s Maria Erdi. Erdi participated in the World Sailing Emerging Nations Program and had her sights set on an appearance in an Olympic Games earmarking Tokyo in four years’ time. With a strong performance in Palma da Mallorca at the 2016 TROFEO Princesa Sofia, Erdi realized her Olympic dream in earnest by gaining qualification to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She went on to become the highest placed Hungarian Laser Radial sailor in history.

As the penultimate event of the season, Sailing World Cup Qingdao moves the fleet toward the 2016 Sailing World Cup Final on December 4-11 in Melbourne, Australia.

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Source: Richard Aspland – World Sailing

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