New Zealand will have two boardsailors representing their country at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in October - and they're both from Tauranga.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee this week confirmed the selection of 18-year-old Max van der Zalm and 17-year-old Veerle ten Have who qualified spots for New Zealand when they won their divisions at January's Oceania championships in Brisbane.
The Tauranga pair will make up two-thirds of New Zealand's team of sailors at the Games, with kiteboarder Pia Gordon also selected.
The sailing at Buenos Aires will feature three classes and casts a nod to the future of the sport with kiteboarding (IKA twin tip racing) and a catamaran (Nacra 15) joining boardsailing (Techno 293+). Kiteboarding is likely to be confirmed later this year on the programme for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The 2018 Youth Olympic Games will be the third summer youth Games, following those in Singapore in 2010 and Nanjing in 2014. The Games are a pre-elite development opportunity for the world's most promising young athletes, allowing them to experience a multi-sport games environment while exposing them to learning and cultural opportunities.
The trio will look to win New Zealand's first medals in sailing at a Youth Olympics.
It will cap off a busy few months for Tauranga-based athletes van der Zalm, and ten Have who are currently in France competing in the RS:X youth world championships and will travel to the United States to compete in the upcoming youth sailing world championships.
Ten Have will then return to Europe for the sailing world championships in Denmark where New Zealand's top sailors have their first chance to qualify boats for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympics is on the agenda for both van der Zalm and ten Have, but the Youth Olympics is their first ambition.
"The level in the sport is so high, but I believe a realistic goal is top five [in Buenos Aires]," van der Zalm said. "I want to be in the top and fighting for a medal.
"I am looking forward to the entire experience, from meeting new friends to being involved in one of the biggest competitions in the world."
Van der Zalm had made good strides over the past 18 months and was inside the top 10 at last year's youth sailing world championships in China in his first major international regatta.
The Youth Olympic Games run from October 6–18, 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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