Men’s 49er sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have been awarded the prestigious Lonsdale Cup for 2020 following a dominant performance to retain their World Championship title.
In a year in which international sport was severely disrupted due to Covid-19, the Olympic Champions were in action in February, defending the World Title they’d won just two months prior in Auckland.
Racing in Melbourne the pair again displayed their pedigree, winning seven of the 13 races to finish 28-points ahead of their nearest rivals and claim a staggering sixth World Championship title.
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith says Burling and Tuke are deserved winners of the Lonsdale Cup.
“Winning six world titles is an amazing feat. A huge amount of dedication, skill and hard-work is required for every campaign and these athletes have proven time and time again that they are a cut above the rest.
“We would like to congratulate Pete and Blair not just for their recent achievements but for years of sporting endeavours across disciplines which have captivated and inspired our nation.
“We would also like to acknowledge their commitment to the ambition for a healthy ocean and recognise the work they have been doing in this space with marine conservation charity, Live Ocean."
“We were thrilled to have Pete and Blair as our flagbearers for the Rio Olympic Games and we are pleased to be presenting them with the Lonsdale Cup today. The NZOC thanks them for their contribution to sport and to New Zealand society.”
Burling and Tuke say they’re honoured to receive the award.
“It’s an honour to represent New Zealand and we are grateful to the NZOC for this acknowledgement” says Burling.
“Through our sport we not only get to do what we love but we get to inspire the next generation of kiwis and shine a light on the importance of protecting our ocean. It’s the best job in the world.” continues Tuke.
Burling and Tuke have been in New Zealand since last February, where they’ve been preparing for the 36th America’s Cup in March followed by the launch of their NZL SailGP campaign in April and Tokyo Olympic campaign in July.
“2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for sport. We’re looking forward to flying the New Zealand flag on the world stage” says Burling.
The Lonsdale Cup is the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s most prestigious award and is presented annually by the New Zealand Olympic Committee to the athlete or team that has made the most outstanding contribution to an Olympic or Commonwealth Sport.
The Lonsdale Cup was first awarded in 1961, with Sir Murray Halberg the inaugural recipient. Since then it has been won by a host of inspirational New Zealanders who have represented our country with pride and passion. Past winners include Dame Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington, Sir John Walker, Barbara Kendall, Sir Peter Snell and many more.