Choices every country dreams about

Published on March 4th, 2020

While a points-based system for Olympic athlete selection provides no doubt as to who is nominated to represent their country at Tokyo 2020, having subjectivity allows other factors to be assessed.

Was there a breakdown or injury? Did the selection events accurately reflect the anticipated conditions? Has one team plateaued and another on the rise? Having an extra layer of judgement can take into account all the variables.

However, any selection system other than one that is clearly black and white allows the grey area to be questioned, and that is what is happening now in Australia. Having the good fortune of two Nacra 17 teams demonstrating medal-winning performance, whoever they chose was going to question the decision.

In one corner was Rio 2016 Nacra 17 silver medalists Jason Waterhouse/ Lisa Darmanin, who have continued to be leaders in the class, most recently finishing third at both the 2019 and 2020 World Championships.

In the other corner was Nathan Outteridge, double Olympic medalist in the Men’s 49er skiff, who was giving it a go with his sister Haylee Outteridge. Their climb in the class had been nearly vertical, missing a win at both the 2018 and 2020 Worlds by one point.

The Outteridges (above) felt they had made a strong case for selection, but when Australian Sailing Team’s Performance Director Iain Murray announced they hadn’t, the siblings do what you do when muddled in subjectivity: you appeal.

While we standby for the appeal outcome, the Australian Sailing Team had already faced controversy when they decided Rio 2016 Laser gold medalist Tom Burton was not the most qualified athlete for Tokyo 2020, despite him winning the 2019 Worlds, instead selecting Matt Wearn who finished second.

Not easy decisions, but choices every country dreams about.

TOKYO 2020 Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Olympic schedule: July 24 – Aug 9
Sailing schedule: July 26 – Aug 6

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