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What now for the US Olympic Sailing Team?

What now for the US Olympic Sailing Team?

After another lacklustre performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games yielded just a single medal for the American sailors, Veteran US sports writer Bernie Wilson assess the prospects for his country's national sailing squad.

It's been a tough eight years for the U.S. Olympic sailing team.

Without Caleb Paine's gutty effort in battling back to win the bronze medal in the Finn class at the Rio Games, it would have been utterly nightmarish.

American sailors are supposed to win Olympic medals. The list is long and distinguished, from Lowell North to Buddy Melges to Mark Reynolds and even Mr. America's Cup himself, Dennis Conner.

At the London Games in 2012, no American climbed the podium, an embarrassing whitewash that hadn't happened since 1936.

U.S. Sailing officials tried to downplay that failure as they built for Rio, maybe too much so. Sometimes it takes getting busted in the chops to improve performance, and some Americans seemed to want to ignore that sad affair and not learn from it. 

There were strong hopes for winning three medals at Rio, and a chance for a few more, depending on how some young sailors responded to the pressure. 

Paine was in the latter group.

Caleb Paine

Caleb Paine

Good thing he came through, or else the only thing the Americans would have had to cheer about was a bunch of Top-10 finishes while watching the Brits, Aussies and Kiwis clean up. Even Croatia outmedaled the U.S. with two, including its first-ever sailing gold.

For perspective, 12 of the 15 U.S. sailors were making their Olympic debuts, including Paine. Many on the team were building for Tokyo in 2020.

That said, should the U.S., backed by an all-star coaching staff, have won more medals?

"Dave Ullman said this, that there are only five people in the sport of sailing who medaled in their first Olympic games,'' Paine said. "If you look at that, and look at the team entering the Olympics, we've done very, very well. We had a chance at four... READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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