British Men's 470 sailors Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell have been nominated to Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).
The duo of Patience and Bithell have been competing together since 2009 and, in their relatively brief time together, have enjoyed a steady rise in the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) world rankings. They finished the 2010 season ranked World #4 and clinched their place on Team GB by winning the silver medal at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships last month in Perth, Australia.
They made their debut in the 470 World Championships in 2009 after having competed together for just two weeks, and brought home a silver medal.
Patience was born in Helensburgh, Scotland and now lives in Portland. He began sailing in an Optimist at the age of seven and started racing two years later at his local sailing club, Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club. He will celebrate his 26th birthday on 4 August, just two days before the Men's 470 Medal Race and victory ceremony.
"Even though we weren't sailing together at the time, Stuart and I by complete coincidence were in the same room when London was announced as the hosts of the 2012 Olympic Games,"
said Patience. "I feel so privileged and am so excited to have been selected. I can't wait to be a part of a home Games in one of the greatest cities on earth."
Bithell was born in Rochdale, England and now lives in Portland. He was introduced to sailing as a seven year old at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club in Rochdale in a Firefly. Bithell began racing competitively at the age of 12 and became a member of the Skandia Team GBR Development Squad at the age of 18. He will celebrate his 26th birthday on 28 August, 16 days after the 2012 Olympic Games conclude.
Bithell said, "Although we never doubted ourselves, it's still a big relief to have been selected and to know that we'll be there on the startline at our first Olympic Games and doing our best to bring home gold. As our coach put it when we learned of our selection 'we've climbed one peak, now we need to climb another, and the sunset's a whole lot nicer from the next one.' It's a weight off our shoulders, but there's a lot of hard work still ahead of us. "
And Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt added, "Despite having competed together for a relatively short period of time, Luke and Stuart have quickly risen to the top of their sport. They have done so by blending their remarkable talent with an unwavering work ethic and a commitment to excellence that is the hallmark of British sailing, and we are proud to welcome them to Team GB."
The 13 sailors who have been selected to Team GB for London 2012 thus far are:
Ben Ainslie - Finn
Paul Goodison - Laser
Bryony Shaw - RSX Women
Nick Dempsey - RSX Men
Lucy Macgregor, Kate Macgregor, Annie Lush - Elliott 6m, Women's Match Racing
Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson - Star
Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark - 470 Women
Luke Patience, Stuart Bithell - 470 Men
Selection trials in the 49er and Laser Radial classes are ongoing.