The 49er and 49er FX Sailing crews to represent Australia in Tokyo 2020 were named today in Sydney, featuring Olympic siblings and an incredible comeback.
Brothers Sam and William Phillips will make their Olympic debut in Tokyo sailing the 49er class, with Rio Olympian Jaime Ryan, sister of 470 Olympic sailor Will Ryan, pairing with Olympic debutant Tess Lloyd in the 49er FX class almost a decade after serious injury left Lloyd unsure if she would ever sail again.
The sailors will race on Enoshima Harbour in Tokyo, the same venue used at the 1964 Games.
Australian Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman welcomed the four sailors to the Tokyo 2020 Team.
“Congratulations to Jaime, Tess, Sam and William on being selected to the Olympic Team today,” Mr Chesterman said.
“It’s exciting to see Sailing put together such a world class team, and I look forward to seeing them take on the challenge in Tokyo.
“It is a phenomenal accomplishment to make an Olympic Team and today is worth celebrating not just for the selected athletes, but their coaches, support staff, families friends and supporters who helped make them the athletes and people they are today.
“All four athletes have shown incredible dedication and talent to reach this stage and I look forward to seeing them continue towards Tokyo.”
Twenty-four-year-old Lloyd will realise her Olympic dream eight years after suffering a serious head injury. Despite an on-water accident aged 17 in 2012 that required brain surgery after a three-week coma, Lloyd’s aspiration to represent Australia at a Games never wavered.
“It was such a relief and so exciting to get the call that I made the Team,” Lloyd said. “I stuck to my guns and committed to this sailing career after a big scare, but the injury has made me the person I am today and made me so determined to make the Olympics.
“It was all very emotional when I got the call I made the Team. The accident was such a huge thing for me and my family. Everything in my life was changing, but sailing was a respite – it came quite naturally and it felt easy being on the water when a lot of different parts of my life were a struggle.
The Victorian paid tribute to her teammate Ryan for pushing the pair to new heights this season.
“Jaime and I been sailing together for two years and we’ve clicked. Jaime brings so much to the team from Rio, has so much maturity and experience.
“In the moment, when we’re on the boat, I can’t explain it - the communication’s flowing, decisions instinctively, it all comes together. In the middle of the chaos there’s no double guessing, it feels natural.
Brothers Sam and William Phillips will make their debut in Tokyo, after securing the Australian quota place with a fifth place finish in February’s 49er World Championships.
“It’s a wonderful feeling for the whole family,” said Will. “They are all so pleased that we get this opportunity to sail together at an Olympic Games.
“It’s pretty special for the two of us – while it would be special to go to an Olympics with any sailing partner, it’s even more special to go with my brother Sam.
“Sam said it was a relief to get the call we made the Team, but for me it was immediately looking forward to getting stuck in to the sailing aspect of it. That’s the bit I enjoy, the learning and figuring out how to improve my craft.”
Australian Sailing Team Performance Director, Iain Murray AM, congratulated the athletes who were selected from a highly competitive selection process.
“We are fortunate to have fantastic depth in our skiff classes, and both decisions were extremely difficult for the nomination panel,” Mr Murray said. “The two teams selected deserve this opportunity, and we look forward to watching them race in Enoshima later this year.”
The sailors announced today join Mathew Belcher, Will Ryan and Matt Wearn, who were selected to the Tokyo 2020 Australian Olympic Team in September 2019.
Today’s selection takes the announced Australian Team for Tokyo 2020 to 19 athletes of an expected 480-strong Team size.
Nomination for Nacra class is still to be finalised by Australian Sailing. Relevant athletes are currently in discussions with Australian Sailing and nominations will be made to the AOC when finalised.