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The first countries to classify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic sailing competition were announced on Sunday (24 August). By the close of the previous week's 2014 World Championships held in Halifax, Canada, ten countries had secured their places at what will be the first ever Games to be hosted in South America. A total of 20 boat places for 39 sailors qualified at the event.
The competition was the first opportunity for Paralympic sailors to claim their place in Rio, and Australia, Great Britain and Canada came out on top, guaranteeing a berth in all three Paralympic classes. Germany, Norway, France and the United States qualified in two classes and Finland, Italy and Greece completed the list with a place each.
The National Paralympic Committees of each country, jointly with the National Confederation, will now decide whether to take up their quota, as well as choosing which athletes will compete.
With each country only allowed one place per class, the 2.4mR qualifiers were Germany, Great Britain, France, Australia, United States, Norway, Canada and Finland, with gold going to Germany’s Heikko Kroeger, Paralympic Champion at the Sydney 2000 Games. Britain’s gold medal winner at London 2012, Helena Lucas, took silver and another Paralympic champion, Frenchman Damien Seguin, won bronze.
SKUD 18-class places were earned by Australia, Great Britain, Italy, Canada and United States, with Australian pair Liesl Tesch and Daniel Fitzgibbon, Paralympic Champions at the London 2012 Games, taking the gold medal. Britain’s Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell took silver and Italy’s Marco Gualandris and Marta Zanetti the bronze.
In the Sonar class, a further seven countries guaranteed places: France, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Greece, Germany and Norway. The gold went to France’s Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary and Erick Flageul, silver to Canada’s Paul Tingley, Scott Lutes and Logan Campbell and bronze went to Australia’s Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden.
A further 35 sailors and 18 boats will qualify for Rio 2016 at the 2015 World Championship in Australia. As host country, Brazil is automatically entitled to one place in each class.