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Tokyo2020: Good news from Olympic Silver medallist's bad break

by Suzanne Mcfadden 13 Jul 2020 05:50 PDT 14 July 2020
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) - 49er FX - Hyundai Worlds - Day 2 , December 4, 2019, Auckland NZ © Richard Gladwell /

A broken foot threatened to derail sailor Alex Maloney's second Olympic campaign. But she's back on track, with a little help from her brother and his America's Cup team-mates.

From now on, Alex Maloney will always seek a second opinion.

Without it, the Rio Olympics sailing silver medallist saw her dream of winning gold in Tokyo almost shatter with one traumatic snap.

One bad wave, and one foot wrong, on the eve of the 49erFX world championships in Geelong and the 28-year-old Aucklander was facing four months off the water. It came just as she and long-time sailing partner Molly Meech were trying to gain selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But when she returned home, dejected with her left leg in a cast, she was persuaded to see medical experts here – who found her foot was fractured in a different place and cut her recovery time by half.

Now Maloney is back on track towards the new Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

After spending lockdown boosting her fitness with the help of her brother, Andy - a Team New Zealand grinder and Tokyo Olympic prospect – Maloney is now on the water and focused on giving everything she’s got to winning Olympic gold in the women's skiff.

And with no overseas regattas and no stiff opposition, Maloney and Meech are approaching it in a different way – with the help of some players in the 2021 America’s Cup.

'But I can still race, can't I?'

Last summer is one Maloney would probably like to forget.

In December, she and Meech were hoping to regain the world 49er FX title they won back in 2013, this time on their home waters, the Waitemata Harbour. They’d topped the Oceania championships the week before, but ended up disappointed with a sixth place, battling in intense conditions.

Maloney and Meech then headed to Melbourne in February for the 2020 worlds with stronger expectations.

“We felt like we were ready; we felt really good as a team,” Maloney explains. “We came second in the pre-worlds regatta the week before, and it felt like it was going to be our favourite conditions – really shifty with flat water.”

Then she recalls the moment it will went pear-shaped.

“We were in our last training race before the worlds. It was quite a short course; all the girls were really close together, and we under-laid the starboard layline and had to do two quick tacks,” she says.

“We just hit a bad wave... and basically my foot had nowhere to go. It felt like a twinge – not too painful, but it just didn’t feel quite right.”

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