Two sailors have been announced today to join the New Zealand Olympic Team to Rio 2016 with Josh Junior named in the Finn class and Sam Meech in the Laser class.

Today’s announcement brings the now complete New Zealand Olympic sailing team to 12 athletes, competing across seven events.

The two sailors named today are:

Josh Junior – Finn (men’s heavy-weight dinghy)
Sam Meech – Laser (men’s light-weight dinghy)

They join the five sailing crews named in March:

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie – Women’s 470 (women’s double-handed dinghy)
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke – 49er (men’s skiff)
Alexandra Maloney and Molly Meech – 49erFX (women’s skiff)
Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox – Men’s 470 (men’s double-handed dinghy)
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders – Nacra 17 (mixed gender multihull)

Securing selection marks an Olympic debut for both Josh Junior and Sam Meech, with Rio 2016 set to be their first appearance at an Olympic Games.

26 year-old Junior grew up in Wellington and proudly represents the capital city’s Worser Bay Boating Club. He is coached by John Cutler, Olympic bronze medallist in the Finn class at Seoul 1988. 

Campaigning in the Laser class during the London 2012 cycle, Junior went on to switch to the Finn class in which he has excelled, producing some career topping performances in 2015 and 2016.

Recent highlights this year for Sam Meech in his bid to secure the Laser selection include a silver medal at Sailing World Cup Hyeres in April and a bronze medal at Sailing World Cup Miami in January. The 25 year-old hails from the Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club.

Mark Howard is coach to the NZL Sailing Team Laser squad and he will support Meech in the final build-up to and during the Olympic Games.

Sam’s younger sister Molly has also been named to represent New Zealand at Rio 2016, sailing in the 49erFX women’s skiff event with Alexandra Maloney.

It is not possible for New Zealand to send more than one boat to compete in each Olympic sailing event and selection for the spots to represent New Zealand in both single-handed men’s events (Finn and Laser) have been incredibly closely contested with more than one sailor in both classes performing to a high level on the world stage.

Yachting New Zealand’s High Performance Director Jez Fanstone says, “This second and final sailing selection announcement is an exciting milestone for us on the road to Rio.

“I am particularly proud of how all the NZL Sailing Team’s Laser and Finn campaigners have worked together within their classes, pushing each other to reach this high standard.”

“The NZL Sailing Team sailors all started out at grass roots yacht clubs around the country and with commitment, dedication and drive have risen to be world class athletes; they work hard in the gym, train long hours on the water and are supported by great coaches,” he said.

“Being named to represent New Zealand at Rio 2016 means that these sailors have demonstrated, through their performances on the world stage, they’re on track and in form to medal. They have all done everything possible to reach the high standards required for selection to the New Zealand Olympic Team.”

“With less than three months until Rio 2016 it is time for us remain focussed on getting to the start-line having left no stone unturned, and being the best prepared we can be to take on the challenge of Rio de Janeiro.” 

New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith congratulated the two sailors selected into the Olympic Team today and noted the strength right across the team of 12 sailors heading to Rio.

"The athletes selected today have been working incredibly hard to this point and with just 87 days to go until the Games begin, both Josh and Sam will have their sights set firmly on producing top-class performances in August."

"The New Zealand Olympic Team is growing by the week and it is fantastic to see the depth of talent across the team."

The two selections announced today means that New Zealand will be represented in all five double-handed Olympic events and in both men’s single-handed events. No selections have been made in the Laser Radial, Men’s RS:X and Women’s RS:X events.

Yachting New Zealand selectors have high standards when considering nominations to the New Zealand Olympic Committee and the ultimate goal of the NZL Sailing Team is to win Olympic medals for New Zealand at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 beyond that.

High Performance Sport New Zealand CEO Alex Baumann was also pleased with the performances of the New Zealand sailors and noted the strong development in the sport over recent years.

“New Zealand continues to produce an exceptional pipeline of world-class sailors and these latest additions to the Rio Olympic team are no exception, making it one of our strongest teams ever. I would like to congratulate all the athletes selected today and wish them well with their continued preparations for Rio”.

Also being announced today is the group that make up the coaching and support team:

Caroline Brisebois, Team Manager
Jez Fanstone, Nacra coach and Team Leader
Jim Maloney, 49er FX coach
Hamish Willcox, 49er coach
Nathan Handley, 470 women coach
Mark Howard, Laser coach
Peter Nicholas, 470 men coach
John Cutler, Finn coach
Fiona Mather, Physiotherapist
Craig Panther, Doctor
Jack Lloyd, Rules Advisor
Jodie Bakewell-White, Media
Harry Lynskey, Chef
Palasis Cooney, Chef

Sailing and the Olympic Games

New Zealand’s first Olympic medal in sailing was gold and won at Melbourne 1956 in the Lightweight Sharpie class by Peter Mander and Jack Cropp. In total New Zealand has won 18 Olympic medals in sailing including eight gold, five silver and five bronze.

Barcelona 1992 was New Zealand’s most successful Olympic Games in sailing with four medals in total including gold for Barbara Kendall (women’s windsurfing), silvers for both Leslie Egnot an Jan Shearer (women’s 470), and Rod Davis and Don Cowie (Star), and bronze for Craig Monk (Finn).

The Olympic Sailing Regatta will take place 8 – 19 August 2016 across six course areas situated on Guanabara Bay and outside the Rio harbour entrance. The event base is Marina da Gloria in Guanabara Bay beneath the stunning Rio landscape, with well-known features Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue providing the back-drop.

The sailing team announced today brings the New Zealand Olympic Team to Rio to 78 athletes.

Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Josh Junior Sam Meech Sailing
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