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Winther to appeal Olympic sailing omission

NZN 9/05/2016

Experienced sailor Sara Winther plans to appeal her omission from the New Zealand team to compete at the Olympics.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee and Yachting New Zealand made their second and final sailing selection for Rio on Tuesday, with dinghy specialists Josh Junior and Sam Meech joining the five double-handed crews named in March.

No Kiwis won selection in either the men's and women's RS:X class, or Winther's specialist Laser Radial class.

Winther, who finished 20th at the 2012 London Olympics, said on Facebook she would appeal the decision, noting that she had qualified a New Zealand boat for Rio in the first round of qualification in September 2014.

Winther placed 22nd at last November's world championships in Oman but pointed out that sailors from only nine nations finished in front of her.

"YNZ's decision has come as a huge disappointment to me and I will be appealing," she said.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported my campaign over the past four years and right now I and women's sailing, need all the support and help we can get."

Winther said she couldn't comment further as she is bound by an athlete's agreement.

Top-ranked women's RS:X sailor Natalia Kosinska is also understood to be considering an appeal.

Both have lacked the same funding platform as some of the higher-ranked Kiwi crews because their international results haven't been as compelling.

In March, London Olympian JP Tobin pulled out of his bid to qualify for Rio because of a lack of support from Yachting NZ.

As it stands, New Zealand are set to field no 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.

Olympic triple medallist Barbara Kendall told the Sail-World website it reflected a shift in priorities in New Zealand.

"This just highlights a few gaps in our development programmes for sailing once the kids leave Optimists and also the cost in many areas of getting to that podium," she said.

"Success is never guaranteed and if there is no development you will see gaps which we are now seeing in the classes that weren't selected by YNZ."

Tobin has taken up a role coaching in Brazil, joining former Kiwi men's medallists Bruce Kendall (Hong Kong), Aaron McIntosh (Netherlands) and Tom Ashley (China) in coaching offshore.

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