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London 2012 Paralympic Games - Matt Bugg named in Australia’s team

by Peter Campbell on 16 Apr 2012
Matt Bugg (AUS) - London 2012 Paralympic Games Rob Cruse
London 2012 Paralympic Games are being held from 29th August to 9th September on the waters of Weymouth Bay. Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania member Matt Bugg today was named in Australia’s team for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the climax of a courageous return to sailing after suffering severe physical disabilities in a snow-boarding incident six and a half years ago.

The Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) announced that Bugg would represent his country in the 2.4mR single person keelboat class in the regatta at Weymouth.

Bugg will be joined by Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, both from NSW, who will sail the two-person Skud 18, and the three-person Sonar crew of Colin Harrison (WA), Stephen Churm (NSW) and Jonathan Harris (NSW).

'I am going over there to win a medal,' the 31-year-old said with great confidence as he worked on his boat at his club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart today. 'Gold may be tough, but I feel I am certainly in the running for a medal.'

Encouraged by his father Ron, Commodore of Derwent Sailing Squadron, and later by high performance coach Richard Scarr, has seen Matthew steadily built up his skill in sailing the 2.4mR, achieving excellent results in international regattas and winning back-to-back open national titles.

'Matt is now in the top five 2.4mR sailors in the world, winning and placing in many regattas around the world, including the World Cup in Miami earlier this year,' Scarr said yesterday. 'We leave in mid-May for regattas in Holland and at Weymouth in the final lead-up to the London Paralympics.'

Despite being confined to a wheel chair, Matt has fitted out the fiberglass hull of the new 2.4mR boat, a design that resembles a scaled-down version of the 12-metre class yachts of America’s Cup fame.

He has built the boat’s sail control console and seating from carbon fibre, swaged the rigging and built the mast and boom from basic sections. 'I’m pretty good with my hands,' the former professional chef said.

His new boat will be flown to Europe in the next few weeks for Matt to sail at his next international regatta at Medemblik, Holland, in late May, for by the Go for Gold Regatta at Weymouth, England, in June.

According to his father, Matt was afloat in the family yacht when he was just six months old. He started his sailing as a crew in Cadet dinghies, went on to become a Sharpie sailor and competed in two Sydney Hobarts before heading overseas.

He was working as a professional chef in the snow resort of St Moritz when the snow-boarding accident happened. He fought back from his disabilities, took up sailing again in the 2.4mR class five years ago – and the rest is history.

'I really got serious about three years ago, and with the excellent coaching of ‘Scarry’ (Richard Scarr), I have steadily improved my skills and my attitude to international sailing…and now I am off to the London Paralympics,' an elated Bugg added.

Australia has won three medals in sailing at the Paralympic Games – one gold, one silver and one bronze – since it was introduced as a Paralympic sport in 2000. More are in the offing at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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