Following their qualification and selection the ten athletes of the Argentinean Sailing Team for the Beijing Games have their sights firmly set on Olympic success.
Argentina qualified for seven of the 11 sailing events at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition and will be represented in the Women's One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial), Men's One Person Dinghy (Laser), Men's Windsurfer (RS:X), Women's Windsurfer (RS:X). Men's Two Person Dinghy (470), Women's Two Person Dinghy (470) and Multihull (Tornado) events in Qingdao.
The team is a combination of youth and experience and will be aiming to build upon a recent run of success which has seen Argentinean sailors stand on the podium at the last three Olympic Games (before then their only sailing medals had come in 1948 and 1960). However, although they can count seven Olympic medals in sailing events, no Argentinean sailor is yet to achieve the ultimate sailing accolade - an Olympic gold medal.
No Argentinean sailor has come closer to the top step of the Olympic podium than Carlos ESPINOLA
. Qingdao will be a fifth successive Olympic appearance for the 36 year old, who started off in the windsurfer, winning silver medals at both the 1996 and 2000 Games, before teaming up as crew for Santiago LANGE
on the Tornado multihull and winning the bronze medal in Athens. Together pair also won the Tornado World Championship in 2004 and finished second at the 2006 Worlds held in Buenos Aires. Again they will line up in the Tornado in Qingdao this August, spearheading the Argentinean medal chase.
Another experienced duo is Javier CONTE
and Juan DE LA FUENTE
in the Men's 470. This will be the third Olympic Games for the pair, who finished as bronze medallists in Sydney 2000. María Fernanda SESTO
is also making her third Olympic appearance at the helm of the Argentinean Women's 470. After finishing 12th at both the Athens and Sydney Games with Paula REINOSO
, she has teamed up with Consuelo MONSEGUR
for this Olympic campaign. The pair were on fine form at the recent ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, finishing fourth in a very competitive fleet.
In contrast, 28 year old Julio ALSOGARAY
will be making his Olympic debut in Qingdao. ALSOGARAY has been one of the most improved sailors on the Laser circuit over the past couple of year amd put in the best performance of any Argentinean sailor at this year's World Championship events, winning the silver medal at the Laser Worlds in Terrigal, Australia.
Laser Radial sailor Cecilia CARRANZA
is another of the new faces in the Argentinean Olympic team. The 21 year old had her first taste of international competition as one of the sailors on the ISAF Athlete Participation Programme
at the 2004 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship
in Poland, where she showed her potential with a fourth-place finish in a 31-strong fleet (incidentally, the gold medallist at the Youth Worlds that year was Sarah STEYAERT
, France's representative for Qingdao and the reigning Laser Radial World Champion). She qualified Argentina for the 2008 Games with a solid performance at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais last year and has made a strong start to this year's European season.
In the windsurfer events, Argentina will be represented by Mariano REUTEMANN
and Florencia GUTIERREZ
. REUTEMANN finished 15th on the Mistral board in Athens, whilst GUTIERREZ will be appearing at her first Olympic Games.
The next step for the Argentinean team is the ISAF Grade 1 Delta Lloyd (formerly Holland) Regatta in Medemblik, The Netherlands.
Argentinean Olympic Team
ISAF Olympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/olympics