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Sports Tribunal rejects NZ sailors' appeal

NZN 2/06/2016

The Sports Tribunal of New Zealand has dismissed appeals against Olympic non-selection lodged by sailors Sara Winther and Natalia Kosinska.

The Tribunal's ruling confirms New Zealand will field crews in seven classes at the Rio Games in August, with three classes remaining unfilled.

Laser Radial sailor Winther, who competed at London four years ago, and women's RS:X hopeful Natalia Kosinska appealed on the basis Yachting New Zealand had failed to properly implement its own selection policy.

Both qualified a boat for New Zealand at Rio with their performances at the 2014 world championships.

Tribunal chairman Sir Bruce Robertson ruled YNZ had the discretion not to nominate sailors, based on its experience and expertise when assessing New Zealand's realistic medal prospects.

He said it wasn't unreasonable for YNZ to rely principally on a report prepared in collaboration with High Performance Sport NZ which analysed the statistical probability of an athlete medalling, based on results at pinnacle events.

Robertson disagreed with a contention it was unfair that certain classes were given additional funding in qualifying, accepting YNZ had to take a targeted approach because of financial constraints.

However, he criticised YNZ's poor communication with its sailors throughout the Rio qualifying period.

He said he was troubled by lack of consultation, support and communication with the Olympic hopefuls.

"Athletes in contention for nomination should be aware of what information they are being judged by and be given a reasonable opportunity to provide feedback on this."

Winther said on Facebook the ruling was disappointing but one she accepted.

She said she would take time out to consider her next move.

"My love for sailing remains, my passion for competing is still there and my belief in my ability to compete for New Zealand at the highest level internationally is unchanged," she wrote.

Kosinska's absence means New Zealand won't field a sailboarder at an Olympics for the first time in 36 years.

The class has delivered three gold medals, one silver and three bronze over eight Olympic regattas since 1984.

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