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Competing against British Olympic team

Published on August 10th, 2021

When the 2021 average payroll in Major League Baseball is US$130 million, and the reigning champions – Los Angeles Dodgers – are spending US$267 million, there’s a strong argument that money equals success.

But when the 2020 MLB runner-up has a payroll ranked 26th out of the 30 teams, and the Dodgers are currently trailing a team that is spending US$100 million less this year, there’s a strong argument that other variables matter too.

That’s what the world is hoping as they look at the Sailing medal haul of Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Brits collected the most gold medals (3) and the most overall medals (5), leaving 15 other nations to gather the remaining 25 medals.

For New Zealand, which along with Australia gathered the most medals (4) at Rio 2016, getting only one medal in Tokyo leaves them pondering how to compete against the lottery-funded UK machine at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

For the Paris cycle, British sailing will receive NZ$42.17m between 2021 and 2025, plus NZ$6.93m of athlete performance awards. That means a mouth-watering total of $NZ49.1m to try to stay at the head of the fleet – more than three times what Kiwi sailors are battling to retain.

Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie has made a plea to stay in the mix when the funding is handed out in the next Olympic round, fearing long-term casualties.

“I hope that we can at least maintain the same level of refunding. We potentially need more,” he told Stuff. “We operate on the smell of an oily rag anyway. If we have funding cuts, all we are going to end up doing is cutting people in programs and that’s counter-productive in my view.

Perhaps changes in the event program for Paris 2024 is the greatest threat to Team GB’s dominance which leads all nations in gold (31) and total (64) medals.

Since 2000 they have completely monopolized the Finn, winning all six golds, but that event is now gone. Similarly, the Brits earned six medals from either the men’s or women’s 470 event since 2004, and that event is now mixed.

Also looking up the hill is the Paul Cayard, Executive Director of the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program, who hopes the new events create disruption. “Five of the events in 2024 will be new. Change creates opportunity, if you are not ‘king of the hill’ in the current game.”

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