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Non-European Olympic first timers are former Optimist internationals

by Robert Wilkes on 30 May 2012
Bermuda brothers Jesse and Zander Kirkland concentrate around the track. - 49 World Championship 2012 Nikola Sisko http://www.49erworlds.org
Nine of the twelve non-European sailors to qualify their countries for the 2012 Olympics in specific dinghy classes for the first time this millennium are former Optimist internationals.

Jesse and Zan Kirkland (BER): the only nation to qualify for the first time in the 49er Class. Older brother Zan in 1998 was a member of the first Bermudan team to enter the Optimist Worlds. He was followed by Jesse who, starting at the age of nine in 1999, sailed a record five Worlds finishing with a silver medal in 2003.

Benjamin Grez (CHI): one of only two nations to qualify for the first time in the men's 470 Class. In Optimists he won the silver medal at the IODA Worlds of 2007. At age 19 he will be one of the youngest male sailors at the Games.

In the Laser Radial, Philipine Van Aanholt (AHO) and Mayumi Roller (ISV) became the first women ever to qualify their countries in any class. Both sailed in the 2004 and 2005 IODA Worlds.

In the Laser Class the following sailors are the first to qualify their nations in any dinghy class in recent years:

Andrew Lewis (TRI) sailed in the IODA Worlds of 2002 and 2003
Youssef Akrout (TUN) graduated from sailing in the second IODA African championship in 2002 to the Worlds of 2003
Keerati Bualong (THA) participated in the IODA Asean championship of 2004
Andrey Quintero (COL) participated in the 1998 IODA South Americans

Ricardo Montemayor (MEX) is the first sailor to qualify his country in the Laser. He participated in the IODA Worlds of 2003 and 2005.

Around 150 of all the 207 skippers (excluding boards) who have qualified their countries for 2012 are former Optimist sailors.
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