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Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Two more added to Olympic sailing team

Sam Meech in action during the ISAF Sailing World Championships. Photo / Getty
Sam Meech in action during the ISAF Sailing World Championships. Photo / Getty

Josh Junior and Sam Meech will round out the New Zealand sailing team in Rio, with Yachting New Zealand today confirming its final selections for the August Games.

The pair will join the five crews named back in March, with selectors needing extra time to weigh up their options in the highly competitive Finn and Laser classes.

Junior faced a head-to-head battle with two-time Olympian Andrew Murdoch for the Finn spot, earning the nod on the back of an impressive run of results at the European regattas earlier this year. The 26-year-old claimed gold at the Princess Sofia regatta in Palma last month, before backing up with a fourth-place finish at the final selection event in Hyeres.

The Laser class also posed a dilemma for selectors, with two world class options to choose from in Meech and Andy Maloney. It also made for divided loyalties in the New Zealand team with Meech and Maloney's sisters, Molly and Alex, sailing together in the 49er FX class.

Meech also stepped up over the past month as the selection pressure came on, picking up silver in Hyeres, while Maloney finished back in fifth but won the final medal race.

Yachting New Zealand's High Performance Director Jez Fanstone said he was pleased to get selections out of the way and focus on the business of preparing his team for the August Games.

"This second and final sailing selection announcement is an exciting milestone for us on the road to Rio," said Fanstone.

"I am particularly proud of how all the NZL Sailing Team's Laser and Finn campaigners have worked together within their classes, pushing each other to reach this high standard."

"With less than three months until Rio 2016 it is time for us remain focused on getting to the start-line having left no stone unturned, and being the best prepared we can be to take on the challenge of Rio de Janeiro."

Today's announcement confirms New Zealand will not have a representative in the board-sailing class for the first time since it was introduced to the Olympic sailing format in 1984. Despite qualifying the men's and women's RS:X class, Yachting NZ offered up no nominations, with JP Tobin dropping his bid for Olympic selection last year citing a lack of support from the national body, while Natalia Kosinska's 24th place finish at last month's World Cup in Hyeres was not enough to sway selectors.

Sara Winther also fell short in her bid for Olympic selection in the Laser Radial class despite a couple of solid results over the last two regattas, meaning New Zealand will be represented in only seven of the 10 fleets.

- NZ Herald

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