by Dana Paxton
US Sailing’s Olympic Sailing Program named Mark Littlejohn of Auckland, New Zealand as a coach of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider.
US Sailing Team Sperry Top Rider logo U.S.
Working directly with High Performance Director Charlie McKee, he will focus on accentuating the performance plan for sailors campaigning in Olympic singlehanded classes. From 2004-2008 Mark headed the Youth Olympic Project for Dutch sailing and then personally coached from 2008 to 2012 Marit Bouwmeester to an Olympic silver medal in the Laser Radial.
'As we dig deep into expanding the technical excellence of the U.S. Olympic Program, we aim to surround U.S. sailors with the best resources possible,' said McKee. 'There are few coaches who can match Mark’s reputation and success, and we are fortunate to have him on our team.'
Littlejohn has spent his career in singlehanded dinghies, both competing and coaching. In the lead-up to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga., he served as a full-time training partner to Ben Ainslie (GBR) when he won his first of five medals, a silver medal in the Laser. In the next Olympic quadrennium, Littlejohn was a full-time coach to Shirley Robertson (GBR), who won her first of two gold medals in the Europe Dinghy at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, AUS.
'I’m pleased to join such a vibrant team of coaches,' said Littlejohn. 'My coaching philosophy is simple and one that has served well: Work hard, work smart and plan well. Everything that you do must underpin self-confidence and self-belief.'