“I have achieved my dream and qualified for the Rio Olympics next year.”
These were the simple and understated words used by Stefano to announce on his Facebook page the fact that he has qualified the Country for a slot in the Men’s Laser class in Rio 2016.
His achievement is massive and deserves to be shouted from the rooftops as this young man has hung in over many months of intense international competition to achieve his goal. Often alone at regattas internationally, he has had to deal with disappointing results on his own, pick himself up and move on top greater things – something he has now done with aplomb, hard work, dedication and a single-mindedness to achieve.
To put this in perspective, most of the sailors on the international circuit who are serious about qualifying for the Olympics, are part of a national squad which is backed by federations and governments and which includes back-up personnel, coaches, on-water assistance and more.
For South African sailors this is simply does not part of the deal – as they are know as ‘privateers’ on the circuit. Doing their own thing, often funding themselves, and operating as individuals.
Thanks to Michael Hayton and Amtec, Stefano has had excellent funding.
“Thank you to Michael Hayton who has made my dream come true and backed me the whole way through my campaign. Amtec Racing is going to Olympics” he said proudly in his announcement from Kingston, Canada.
Having qualified for the Gold fleet, Stefano is now concentrating on improving his overall position of 39th in these World Championships, and improving his world ranking of 81st.
Two other South Africans, the McNeill brothers, competing in the same event, qualified for the Bronze fleet in 136th and 157th places overall.
At this stage, only two other South African sailing teams have an opportunity of qualifying for the Olympics. They are the Men’s 470 team of Asenathi Jim and Roger Hudson, and the 49er Skiff team of Graeme Willcox and Andrew Tarboton.