Sailors from 62 nations will take to the world's greatest sporting stage this August as they battle on the Yellow Sea at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Sailing Competition.
Confirmation of national places has been received by the International Sailing Federation, along with provisional entry lists detailing the athletes who will compete across the eleven events of the Olympic Sailing Competition. Entries range from multiple medallists looking to expand their entry in Olympic sailing history to new faces aiming to demonstrate their talent on the world's greatest sporting stage. Amongst the 62 nations, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates enter athletes to the sailing events of the Olympic Games for the first time.
In total 400 athletes will compete at the Olympic sailing venue in Qingdao, including four of the gold medal winning teams from Athens, who return to defend their titles. The British Women's Keelboat team also features two of the three crew who won the gold medal in 2004, whilst a further three gold medallists from Athens will compete in different events to those in which they triumphed four years ago. All the competing athletes will face a new challenge in Qingdao with the introduction of the new Medal Race format for all 11 events. Following an initial opening series held over five days of racing, the top ten crews will progress to a final Medal Race where points scores are doubled and the 2008 Olympic Champions will be decided.
The confirmation of a place at the Olympic Games is the culmination of four years dedication to pursuing a sporting dream. Over 2,500 sailors competed at ten qualification regattas across Europe, Oceania and North America to secure their nation a place at the Games, before battling against their national rivals for selection to the team of their National Olympic Committee. Amongst the sailors who have realised the first part of their Olympic dream are 14 athletes who have received support through the Olympic Solidarity Scholarship Programme.
Great Britain has topped the sailing medal tally at the past two Games and leading their charge again this year will be triple Olympic medallist Ben AINSLIE
. Ainslie won his first Olympic gold medal in the Laser dinghy in 2000, before switching to the larger Finn to win gold again in Athens four years ago. He will start as a hot favourite to defend that title in the Heavyweight Dinghy event in Qingdao. The experienced Austrian team of Roman HAGARA
and Hans Peter STEINACHER
are also aiming for a third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the Multihull event, sailed in the Tornado. Spain's Iker MARTINEZ
and Xabier FERNANDEZ
are another of the champions from Athens and will compete again in the high performance 49er dinghy to defend their title in the Skiff event. Completing the quartet of defending champions is Faustine MERRET
of France, although this year the Women's Windsurfer event will be contested on the newly designed RS:X board.
and Sarah WEBB
of Great Britain also both won gold in 2004 in the Women's Keelboat event along with helm Shirley ROBERTSON
. However, the team parted ways after Athens and AYTON took over at the back of the boat to be joined again by WEBB and new team mate Pippa WILSON
. Competing in the tactically challenging Yngling keelboat, this crew will be competing against two other gold medal winners from Athens: at the helm of the Norwegian Yngling, Siren SUNDBY
, who won gold in the single-handed Europe dinghy in Athens; and Sofia BEKATOROU
helming the Greek Yngling, a gold medallist in the two-person 470 four years ago. The final gold medallist from Athens competing in Qingdao is the great Brazilian sailor Robert SCHEIDT
. After winning two gold and one silver medal along with eight World Championship titles in the one person Laser dinghy, SCHEIDT has teamed up with Bruno PRADA
and switched to the Men's Keelboat event in the Star boat.
Other famous Olympians on their way to Qingdao are Barbara KENDALL
of New Zealand, a triple Olympic medallist in the Women's Windsurfing event and a member of the IOC Athletes' Commission. Competing against her will be her great rival and another three-time Olympic medallist, Alessandra SENSINI
At the forefront of the challenge from the host nation will be Athens silver medallists Jian YIN
in the Women's Windsurfer event. The young but highly talent Lijia XU
also starts amongst the favourites in the Women's One Person Dinghy event sailed in the Laser Radial.
Click here to view the entries for the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition
Please note the entry list is provisional. The final deadline for National Olympic Committees to summit entry forms is 23 July.
Entries By Event
(Event - Equipment)
Women's One Person Dinghy - Laser Radial (28 entries confirmed, 28 athletes)
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser (43 entries confirmed, 43 athletes)
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470 (29 entries confirmed, 58 athletes)
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470 (19 entries confirmed, 38 athletes)
Men's Keeboat - Star (16 entries confirmed, 32 athletes)
Women's Keelboat - Yngling (15 entries confirmed, 45 athletes)
Multihull - Tornado (15 entries confirmed, 30 athletes)
Skiff - 49er (19 entries confirmed, 38 athletes)
Heavyweight Dinghy - Finn (26 entries confirmed, 26 athletes)
Men's Windsurfer - RS:X (35 entries confirmed, 35 athletes)
Women's Windsurfer - RS:X (27 entries confirmed, 27 athletes)
ISAF Olympic Games microsite - www.sailing.org/olympics