Staying healthy for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Published on February 9th, 2020

The trend toward high performance in Olympic equipment has increased injuries. When boats go fast, they can also stop fast, and the boat is not always kind to the sailors. Staying healthy has become as much of the game as speed and tactics.

A reminder of this has come on the eve of the 2020 World Championships for the three high performance Olympic classes – 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 – when 2016 Olympic silver medalist Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) have withdrawn after Maloney fractured her foot in training two days earlier.

The kiwi duo were among the contenders to add to the title they won in 2013 but Maloney fell awkwardly when performing a tack during practice racing and hurt her foot. The regatta is being held February 10-15 in Geelong, Australia.

“We didn’t think it was too bad at first,” said coach Nathan Handley. “She came in and iced it and we thought it was just bruised but later on as it was still hurting we got some x-rays and found out there’s a fracture in the foot.”

American Bora Gulari, who finished 8th at Rio 2016 in the Nacra 17, later lost parts of several fingers in a training accident and has since retired from the class in part due to the injury prone boat.

Hoping to avoid injury and continue their ascent up the 49erFX class rankings are 2016 Olympian Paris Henken with 2008 Olympic medalist Anna Tobias, who currently lead the USA selection system for Tokyo. Here they report on their status leading into the Worlds:

After finishing 4th at the Oceania Championships last weekend, we took a day rest. We both managed to relax and get some other work done, grocery shop, and refuel our bodies for the upcoming week. We sailed Wednesday through Friday (Feb. 5-7) doing both racing, starting practice, and checking out our new sails for the upcoming regatta.

Some of the practice racing we participated in was very close to shore in an offshore wind. It made it rather entertaining and also a little stressful since the wind coming off the land made the race course extremely shifty and super random. You won’t be able to guess every single puff or shift correctly on those types of race days, so we found it best to just laugh it off sometimes because its crazy unpredictable.

Although these practice days can be challenging we were really happy after one particular day of practice racing because it taught us a lot about how we should be communicating even better in those types of conditions. It was good to have figured out better lingo and communication leading into this week.

This regatta also serves as our last and final qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Although there is a lot riding on this event, we are both just excited to be where we are today and plan to just go out and have some fun!

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