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Wearn returns and Morris set to go; sailors selected for Paris Olympics

by Australian Sailing Team 15 Feb 21:27 PST
Matt Wearn - 2023 Allianz Sailing World Championships © Sailing Energy

Reigning ILCA 7 Olympic gold medallist Matt Wearn and 20-year-old iQFOiL sailor Grae Morris are both off to Paris, having been selected to the Australian Olympic Team for this year's Games. The announcement was made today by the Australian Olympic Committee at Wearn's home club, the Royal Perth Yacht Squadron.

Wearn will defend the ILCA 7 title he won at Tokyo 2020 and will be looking to continue Australia's stranglehold on the class, with the past three winners coming from the land down under (Tom Slingsby in 2012, Tom Burton in 2016 and Wearn in 2020).

"It feels great to be selected for my second Olympics," said Wearn. "Last time I didn't know what to expect so it feels nice to be more prepared in that sense. It's just awesome to be able to compete for Australia again at the highest level."

The Perth-based sailor looked a long-shot to make the start line after long-Covid completely derailed his 2022 season, but he now looks the man to beat after a stunning run of success over the past twelve months.

Between July 2023 and January this year Wearn won the Paris Olympic Test Event, 2023 World Championship, Australian Sailing Male Sailor of the Year Award, AIS Male Athlete of the Year Award and the 2024 World Championship.

"2022 was tough," continued Wearn. "In a year where I was looking forward to taking the momentum of the Games through to this campaign it was all taken away by a series of illnesses which ended my season.

"It took well into the 2023 season for me to get back to the health and fitness level I needed to be at the top of the fleet again, but with some amazing help I managed just that."

Wearn will be heading to Marseille with a new coach, after Rafa Trujillo assumed the reigns of the program from Michael Blackburn who led the squad to the past three Olympics.

"Not only did Matt hit baseline performances across our three selection events, he won Gold at all three," said Trujillo. "The test event had light and shifty breezes, in the The Hague we had a lot of current and in Adelaide we had medium to strong winds. There is no doubt Australia selected the most complete ILCA 7 sailor we have."

Morris has been rewarded for his meteoric rise with his first Olympic selection in the Men's iQFOiL class.

"It was a childhood dream to go to the Olympics and to see it's all finally coming together is amazing," said Morris.

Everything seemed to click for the Sydneysider in 2023, where he joined the elite of the class finishing fourth at the Olympic Test Event, ninth at the World Championships and sixth at the European Championships. He backed that up with a fourth at this year's Worlds.

"Finishing 4th in our last Worlds in lead up to Olympics shows we are heading in the right direction," he continued. "It's all experience that I need to do my best when the time comes."

The iQFOiL will also be making its debut as the Windsurfing equipment in Paris, marking the first time the board has raced on a foil at this level.

"The iQFOiL is fast in all conditions and exciting," said Morris. "It's windsurfing but better. Paris is going to show people what windsurfing looks like now, and I think everyone is going to love it."

The speedster from Sydney's Woollahra Sailing Club is being coached by Australian sailing legend Arthur Brett, who also mentored a young Tom Slingsby.

"Grae's Olympic selection is a wonderful reward for Grae, his family, the windsurfing community and the Australian Sailing program," said Brett. "I am thrilled with Grae's development but as always there is a bit more to do. I am looking forward to him hooking in hard to see how far he can take it at the Games."

Australian Sailing President Alistair Murray AM spoke on behalf of the sport before the announcement.

"Australian Sailing is incredibly proud of what Matt and Grae have achieved, and we look forward to watching them represent Australia on the Olympic racetrack," said Murray.

"Both athletes have sacrificed so much to get themselves to the peak of their respective classes. We commend them, their coaches Rafa and Arthur, their families, and all those who have supported them to get them where they are today."

The selections were announced by Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team, Anna Meares.

"Congratulations to Matt and Grae on their selection to the Australian Olympic Team for Paris 2024," Ms Meares said.

"Matt and Grae are world class athletes who will represent Australia with pride and contribute to our rich Olympic sailing legacy.

"Matt has shown incredible resilience, it's inspiring to see him climb back to the top of the fleet after illness. Grae has already demonstrated he is an incredible talent, finishing fourth at the World Championships, and I look forward to Aussie fans getting behind him as the iQFOiL class makes its debut in Paris."

Australian Sailing would like to thank the support of our Program Partners at the Australian Institute of Sport, the Western Australian Institute of Sport and the New South Wales Institute of Sport for their role in developing the careers of the selected athletes.

Wearn and Morris join Breiana Whitehead (Women's Formula Kite) as the three sailors selected to the Australian Olympic Team for Paris so far, where the sailing competition will commence on the waters of Marseille from July 28.

Matt Wearn OAM Quick Facts

  • Aged: 28
  • Club: Royal Perth Yacht Club, Fremantle Sailing Club
  • Experience:
    • Tokyo 2020 Olympic – Gold
    • Australian Sailing Team member since 2014
  • Best results:
    • Gold – Tokyo 2020 Olympics
    • Gold – 2024 ILCA 7 World Championships
    • Gold – 2023 ILCA 7 World Championships
    • Gold – 2023 Paris Olympic Test Event
    • Australian Sailing Male Sailor of the Year – 2018 & 2023
    • AIS Sport Performance Awards, Male Athlete of the Year (Able) – 2023

  • Western Australian Institute of Sport athlete

Grae Morris Quick Facts

  • Aged: 20
  • Club: Woollahra Sailing Club
  • Experience: Olympic Debut
  • Best results:
    • 4th – 2024 iQFOiL World Championships
    • 4th – Paris Olympic Test Event
    • 9th – 2023 iQFOiL World Championships
    • 6th – 2023 iQFOiL European Championships

  • New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete

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