by Craig Heydon
Gold Coast based Mathew Belcher is the Australian Sailing Team’s 470 Mens skipper and has now been named as a finalist in the 17th Annual Queensland Sport Award. Belcher who has had a successful twelve months is nominated in the Queensland Sport Star category.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page racing at Sail Melbourne 2011
Competition is tough for Queensland’s most prestigious sporting award with Belcher up against athletes such as US Open winner Sam Stosur and 100m hurdles World Champion Sally Pearson, along with Ironman Shannon Eckstein, who Belcher went to school with.
'It’s great to get recognition for all the hard work that we put in training and competing around the world and to be named alongside some of not only Queensland’s, but also Australia’s, top athletes is a great honour in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games,' said Belcher.
'We spend a lot of time away from home, countless hours on the water and away from our families and to be recognised for the Queensland Sport Star award is a great reward,' he said. 'On top of that it’s great to see that sailing is rubbing shoulders with the top sports in Australia.'
Belcher and his crew Malcolm Page have had success across the globe in the last year with the 2010 World Champions and current world number ones picking up their second straight ISAF Sailing World Cup, the European, North American and Australian 470 Championships and also a Silver medal at the test event for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Unfortunately Belcher will miss the awards ceremony next Monday evening as he will be in the middle of competition at the Australian 470 Championships in Western Australia, an important lead up event the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships which begin on December 3.
'We’ve been working towards the World Championships all year and are looking forward to the chance to compete to defend the title that Mal and I won in 2010 in the Netherlands,' said Belcher. 'Perth 2011 is also the first opportunity we have to qualify Australia for a position in the 470 class at London 2012 so the competition is certainly going to be tight.'
Sailing will have a second finalist at the Queensland Sport Awards with Josh Franklin and Lewis Brake named as finalists in the Queensland Junior Sport Team category.
Franklin and Brake were members of the Australian Youth Sailing Team that competed at the 2011 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in Croatia, with the pair finishing fourth in the 29er class.
The Queensland teenagers also had success at the OAMPS Insurance Brokers Australian Youth Championship where they finished first in the 29er class and at the Kiel Week regatta in Germany where they won Gold in the same class.
Australian Sailing Team Website