While 2016 may still seem rather far away, South Africa’s Olympic sailors are this week taking the first steps towards qualifying for the next Games in Rio.
London Olympians Roger Hudson and Asenathi Jim are currently competing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Qingdao, China ÔÇô site of the Olympic competition during the 2008 Olympic Games. This World Cup event is providing the Cape Town-based duo with vital preparation for next year’s Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, where they will have their first shot at booking a spot in the 470 competition in Rio.
Having raced against time to qualify for London 2012 in just 18 months, the pair are making the most of a longer build-up period this time round.
Speaking from China, Hudson said:”We’re still playing catch up and the target last time was to qualify but the target is higher this time round so it’s nice to have a bit more time. But we’re still under a lot of pressure to get where we want.ÔÇØ
Fifty per cent of the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing competition places will be booked at next year’s World Championships and the South Africans have their eye on taking one of those spots.┬á”Every World Championship is a big one and Santander is a bit special because it’s the first Olympic qualifier.
“It’s a long way away from the Games so it would be nice to get that done. But it will be a tough one. We’re pushing for every improvement we can make at this point.ÔÇØ
As for conditions in China, Hudson added:┬á”So far the weather’s been very mild and there’s some nice breeze. We heard it was so light during the Olympics and it’s been pretty breezy so far and different conditions from the Beijing Games.”
A total of 131 sailors from 24 nations are competing in Qingdao in six classes: Men’s and Women’s 470, Men’s and Women’s RS:X, Laser and Laser Radial with $180,000 prize money spread across the fleets.