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Canadian sailors aim at Olympic spot for the country in ILCA 7 at the World Championship

by Sail Canada 18 Jan 19:00 PST January 26-31, 2024
Road to Paris 2024 © Sail Canada

A total of eight Canadian sailors will battle to qualify a spot for the country in ILCA 7 for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at the 2024 ILCA 7 World Championship to be held January 26-31 in Adelaide, Australia.

The 2024 ILCA 7 World Championship will be the third of four opportunities where Canadian sailors will be able to earn a spot for the country. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Canada didn't qualify in this event for the first time since ILCA 7 made its Olympic debut in 1996.

In Australia, Canadian sailors will need to finish among the top seven competitors who represent countries that have not already qualified for Paris 2024. A total of 153 athletes from 53 countries will be in action, including all medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the 2022 ILCA 7 World Championship and the 2023 Sailing World Championships. The list of countries who have already qualified a spot in ILCA 7 for Paris 2024 is available on Sail Canada's website at www.sailing.ca/sc_event/2024-olympic-games.

Five members of Sail Canada's Development Squad will be in action at the 2024 ILCA 7 World Championship, including Ryan Anderson (Halifax, N.S.-RNSYS), Liam Bruce (Oakville, ON-Port Credit YC), James Juhasz (Oakville, ON-BHYC), Luke Ruitenberg (St. Margaret's Bay, N.S.-RNSYS), as well as Fillah Karim (Vancouver, B.C.-RVYC), who represented Canada at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.

2008 and 2012 Olympian Mike Leigh to participate

Canada will also be represented by Ben Flower (Tobermory, ON-Tobermory YC), Norman Struthers (Toronto, ON-RCYC), and two-time Olympian Mike Leigh from Nanaimo, B.C.

Leigh took part in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in ILCA 7 (previously named Laser), where he took the 9th spot. That performance represents the best Canadian result as well as the country's only top 10 ever in this event at the Olympic Games. He also took part in the London 2012 Olympic Games in 470 (Two-Person Dinghy), where he finished in 25th position with Luke Ramsay.

At the 2006 Laser World Championship held in South Korea, Mike Leigh took the fourth position, which still stands as the best Canadian result since 1982. He finished 10th overall at the 2009 edition. At the 2010 World Cup, he took the third spot overall in ILCA 7. In the world ranking, he has been ranked as high as second in the world in ILCA 7 during his career.

"With the 2024 ILCA 7 World Championship being held so close to where I live now, in Sydney, Australia, and considering that this competition includes an opportunity for country spots qualification as well as part of Sail Canada's athletes' qualification process toward Paris 2024, I said why not give it a try," said Mike Leigh, now 39 years of age. "I'm definitively looking to make it to Paris 2024, but above all, I want to contribute to make sure Canada will be at the starting line in ILCA 7 at the upcoming Olympic Games. Will it be by being the Canadian representative or by supporting the Canadian team's athletes, we will see. But most importantly, I want to see Canada in the ILCA 7 class at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

How Canadian athletes qualify themselves for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

The 2024 ILCA 7 World Championship is the first of two competitions that will serve as the Canadian qualification process in ILCA 7 for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, if Canada qualifies a spot.

For each class in which Canada qualifies a spot for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, athletes and teams can qualify themselves by being the athlete/team with the lowest score combined position from the 2024 World Championships in their respective classes and the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta, added together, with selection being based on a sailing scoring system (lowest score first).

If there is a tie, the athlete/team in the higher position (based on the sailing scoring system) at the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta will qualify to be nominated. If an event is cancelled, it will be replaced by the 2024 European Championships in that class.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee's Team Selection Committee after it has received nominations from all National Sport Organizations.

As of today, Canada has qualified spots for the sailing competitions at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in ILCA 6, 49er, 49erFX and women's kiteboarding. For the other events, Canada can still qualify spots in other competitions that will be coming up in 2024.

Full qualification processes for countries to qualify spots at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the manner in which Canadians can qualify themselves to be nominated for the Paris 2024 Team Canada squad, as well as the full qualification calendar are available at www.sailing.ca/sc_event/2024-olympic-games.

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