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Young guns ready for action - Five sailors selected for Paris 2024

by Lisa Darmanin / Australian Sailing 19 Apr 23:19 PDT
Zoe Thomson with Australian Sailing High Performance Director Iain Brambell CREDIT Beau Outteridge © Beau Outteridge / Australian Sailing Team

On the shores of the Mediterranean Sea not far from the Olympic waters of Marseille, the Australian Olympic Team announced five sailors for the upcoming Olympic Games. Zoe Thomson will represent in the ILCA6, Brin Liddell and Rhiannan Brown will be racing the foiling Nacra 17 and Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas will compete in the Mixed 470.

Western Australian Zoe Thomson is fuelled by ambition and determination, "It means so much to be part of the team. The legacy within Australian Sailing is rich, the values and standards those sailors lived by are clear, said Thomson.

"I have some hard work to do and I am not afraid of that. I want to be Australia's first sailing individual female medallist."

For her debut Games, Thomson is under the guidance of Carolijn Brouwer as coach, the three time-Olympian commented, "The main reason Zoe is where she is today is because of her never-give-up attitude, her strong strategical and tactical mind helps to create opportunities for herself that others don't necessarily see."

Brouwer has been integral in the success of the Australian ILCA6 squad on their mission to be the strongest ILCA squad in the world, and knows this will pay dividends in the final push to the Olympics, "Every single squad member is very proud of Zoe's achievements and are giving her their full support in the lead up to the Games."

In the mixed-multihull, Brin Liddell and Rhiannan Brown have had an amazing trajectory over the past few months to book their spot on the team.

"It sounds cliché but it is a dream come true," remarked Liddell. "It's something as a kid I would have written down as what I wanted to be when I grew up, an Olympian, and the fact that is becoming a reality is still unbelievable."

Twenty one year old Rhiannan Brown echoed this sentiment, "I feel proud of that little girl who had the crazy dream to chase her Olympic ambitions."

In describing what it's like racing the Nacra 17 she commented, "It's extremely action-packed as it incorporates foiling at high speeds, crashes and extremely close-quarter racing to keep everyone on their toes."

The pair from New South Wales will have dual Olympic Medallist Darren Bundock to lean on, "As a coach, it's exciting as it's likely Brin and Rhiannan will be the youngest team and undoubtedly have the highest trajectory in the Nacra 17 fleet competing at the Games," shared Bundock.

"Their learning curve is steep and despite their constant improvement I still see so many areas to improve in technique, racing skills and speed leading into the Olympics."

Tokyo Olympian Nia Jerwood is embracing the exciting shift to mixed-gender competition in the 470 class alongside Conor Nicholas. "It feels amazing to be selected for my second Olympic Games," shared Jerwood.

"The change to the mixed teams for the 470 meant I could team up with Conor. We've been mates since sailing Optimists and always had the same competitive drive so it made a lot of sense to join up, it is safe to say it was a great decision."

?Nicholas was thrilled to be making his mark on the Australian Olympic Team, "To think that I will soon stand as an Australian Olympian with the likes of Darren Bundock, Tom Slingsby, Nathan Outteridge, Will Ryan, it's pretty special and something I'll never take for granted."

In terms of what the final preparations look like, Nicholas added, "We have still two major regattas to go, we will then go to Marseille with two months lead in and do a lot of coaches regattas, which is really important to get used to conditions and get acclimatised to the venue."

Jerwood and Nicholas are working with Italian Andrea Mannini, a Gold medal 470 coach from the Rio 2016 Olympics and a 470 sail designer and the pair attribute much of their development to Mannini.

Australian Olympic Team Chef de Mission congratulated the athletes on their selection.

"Congratulations to Conor, Zoe, Brin, Rhiannan and Nia on their selection in the Paris 2024 Australian Olympic Team," Ms Meares said.

"Sailing has such a strong Olympic history in Australia, and I know each of these athletes will be striving to write their own chapter in just under 100 days' time," concluded Ms Mears.

"Their passion, commitment and talent have got them to this point, and I'm excited to see what they can accomplish on the Olympic stage. I have no doubt they will make Australia proud."

Australian Sailing President Alistair Murray AM, who sat on the Olympic nomination panel shared just how tough their task was, "It was one of the most difficult things I've done in my many years of business and in sailing, recognising the impact the decisions have has on all of the contenders and the many years of hard work and dedication they've put in."

He continued, "There have been many challenging decisions. The panel devoted extensive hours of analysis, seeking input from coaches and support staff. Heartiest congratulations to those selected and thank you to all the other sailors, as they've performed magnificently and worked so hard."

Murray is looking forward to getting over to Marseille later this year to cheer on the now twelve sailors that will be representing Australia at the Games, "It's going be fantastic, we're going to be riding every tack and mark rounding with them in spirit."

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.

These sailors join the seven others that have been selected for the Australian Olympic Team, Matt Wearn (ILCA 7), Grae Morris (Men's iQFoil), Breiana Whitehead (Women's Formula Kite), Oliva Price and Evie Haseldine (49er FX) and Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (49er).

To find out more about how Australian sailors are nominated for selection to the Australian Olympic Team read this explainer.

Nia Jerwood Quick Facts

  • Class: Mixed dinghy - 470 - Helm
  • Aged: 26
  • Club: Fremantle Sailing Club, WA
  • Experience:
    • Tokyo 2020 Olympics – 16th
  • Best results:
    • 6th Paris 2024 Test Event 2023
    • 13th 2023 470 European Championships
    • 15th 2024 470 World Championships
  • Western Australian Institute of Sport athlete

Conor Nicholas Quick Facts

  • Class: Mixed dinghy - 470 - Crew
  • Aged: 26
  • Club:  Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, South of Perth Yacht Club, WA
  • Experience: Olympic Debut
  • Best results:
    • 6th Paris 2024 Test Event 2023
    • 13th 2023 470 European Championships
    • 15th 2024 470 World Championships
  • Western Australian Institute of Sport athlete

Zoe Thomson Quick Facts

  • Class: One-person dinghy - ILCA6 (formally Laser Radial)
  • Aged: 26
  • Club: Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, WA
  • Experience: Olympic Debut
  • Best results:
    • 2nd - 2024 World Cup Series, Palma Mallorca
    • 10th – 2024 ILCA6 European Championships
    • 2nd – 2023 World Cup Series, Palma Mallorca
  • Western Australian Institute of Sport athlete

Rhiannan Brown Quick Facts

  • Class: Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 – Crew
  • Aged: 21
  • Club: Wangi Sailing Club
  • Experience: Olympic Debut
  • Best results:
    • 3rd 2023 Nacra 17 Junior World Championships
    • 11th 2023 European Championships
    • 11th 2024 World Cup Series, Palma Mallorca
  • New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete

Brin Liddell Quick Facts

  • Class: Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17 – Helm
  • Aged: 21
  • Club: Wangi Sailing Club
  • Experience: Olympic Debut
  • Best results:
    • 3rd 2023 Nacra 17 Junior World Championships
    • 11th 2023 European Championships
    • 11th 2024 World Cup Series, Palma Mallorca
  • New South Wales Institute of Sport athlete

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