We’re home from the World Championships in Perth, Australia, after a long stay, lots of sailing and the conclusion of 9 of our 10 Olympic Trials. Some members of our team were down there for two months. Many made a significant commitment to this event, all in pursuit of the right to represent the USA at the Games in 2012. After Perth, everyone hustled home for the holidays and a much needed respite.
We now know 13 of our 16 2012 Olympians, with only our match racers yet to be determined. And on the Paralympic side, we will know our six USA representatives by the end of this month, as those Trials conclude at Rolex Miami OCR.
The road to 2012, “The Way to Weymouth” as we have been calling it, has been a long road for many. The sailors who commit to a professional and thorough training regimen deserve our respect, regardless of how the Trials ended for them. It’s their commitment that really differentiates them, not the result. Many great sailors have committed to their Olympic dream over the years, only to fall just short. No matter how they might have ended at the Trials, there is a special place in my heart for any athlete who stepped up to compete.
The focus of our Program shifts now. We narrow our resources around those Trials winners, and a select few who have raised their hand and are continuing to train for 2016 and as valuable training partners for the 2012 team. In addition, we need to begin creating a “team” among these sixteen Olympians and six Paralympians. We’ve been working on this sense of team for four years now, and as we get clarity around our Trials winners, that sense of squad now also needs to include getting these sixteen and these six sailors ready to compete together, live together, and travel together for long periods of time in 2012.
The Games experience is a potentially claustrophobic one. The housing is small, everyone has a roommate, and we are together for long periods of time. Success at the Games is about more than just performance on the water. It’s about creating a cool and calm atmosphere on shore as well, that will help translate into success on the water.
The Games are getting closer every day… The Olympics begin in 197 days, and the Paralympics in 230. The clock is ticking, a little louder each day.
Dean Brenner is the Chairman of the Olympic Sailing Committee