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Money, money, money

by Bob Fisher on 19 Aug 2008
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. Ainslie (GBR) and Railey (USA) definitely on different programs. Guy Nowell © http://www.guynowell.com

There are moans to be heard throughout the Olympic Village concerning the unfairness of the funding of the sailors by their national authorities, and those complaints are not restricted to the sailors themselves but a groundswell of antagonism against those who receive reasonable funding and produce the results has begun on the outside.

It has to be realised that the Olympics are no longer an amateur endeavour but a career path in sport.

For example, one finds Steve Van Dyck, a former America’s Cup tactician from the days when involvement in a Cup campaign was viewed as:

'an act on which a lifetime may be judged,' according to a former Commodore of the New York Yacht Club, writing to Scuttlebutt about Zach Railey, a member of his club, Clearwater YC in Florida.

He says: 'Zach beat every Finn sailor save four time Olympic medal winner Ainslie, a world-class professional who gets paid to sail.'

He goes on: 'Zach embodies the finest of what we celebrate in American sports, start as a boy in an Optimist program, come to dream of an Olympic medal, and arrive as a man on the Olympic medal podium.'

One must point out to Van Dyck that Ainslie did all of those things and that in this day and age, when all sports are becoming professional, Ainslie has been able to go through the pain barriers associated with no money and simply parental help, to the stage where his efforts are recognised in a squad that ensures that its members have the worries removed in order that they can concentrate on the job of winning.

Maybe US Sailing should take a leaf out of the Royal Yachting Association’s book and develop an Olympic squad. OK, the British team receives funding from the national lottery, but there are many ways, in the land of the green back, where funds can be raised for the support of sport.

Just how many of the US Basketball team are amateurs? Most are multi-millionaires. Stop moaning and start working towards a better team for 2012.

Others are doing just that from far smaller beginnings than the United States of America. Adil Khalid Mohammad of the United Arab Republic, one of the last to qualify for the Laser class this time is already assured of financial support for his campaign to win a medal at the London Games in four years time.

Adil so impressed his national authority with an eleventh place in the fifth race that he has secured US$1.5million for his campaign. That should send a message to the Americans.

Maybe they should look too at the way one of the Laser Radial sailors has assisted her fund raising. Petra Niemann has posed nude for the German edition of Playboy She has much to be proud of and one expects that her reward was commensurate with her artistry.

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