Sailing stars aim for repeat gold medals in Tokyo Olympics


HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: At age 54, cancer survivor Santiago Lange of Argentina became the oldest medalist at the Rio Games when he and crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli won the gold in the Olympic debut of the Nacra 17 mixed catamaran class. Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand, who have since won and defended the America’s Cup, clinched the 49er gold with a race to spare to cap a dominating quadrennium. Giles Scott of Britain lived up to the enormous pressure of being heir apparent to Sir Ben Ainslie, the most-decorated sailing Olympian of all time with four golds and a silver, when he clinched gold in the Finn class before the medal race was sailed.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: Lange, now 59 and in his seventh Olympics, and Caranza will try to defend their gold medal in the Nacra 17, which is now a foiling boat, when the regatta begins at Enoshima Yacht Harbor. Burling and Tuke will be looking to defend their gold medal in the high-performance 49er skiff less than five months after helping Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defend the America’s Cup. The Kiwi duo took silver in 2012. Scott will be back to defend his gold in the Finn several months after sailing with Ainslie aboard Britain’s boat in the America’s Cup trials. Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze look to repeat as gold medalists in the women’s 49erfx. Grael is the daughter of Torben Grael, who counts two golds among his five Olympic medals.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: After falling just short of becoming the first sailor to win six medals in an Olympic career, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt is back to try again at age 48. Although he won the Laser class medal race at Rio, he missed the bronze medal by four points. Scheidt has won two golds and one silver in the Laser class, and a silver and a bronze in the discontinued Star class. There will be a new champion in men’s RS:X windsurfing after Kiran Badloe of the Netherlands beat two-time Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe in the Dutch selection process. Countrywoman Lilian de Geus is a solid favorite for the women’s title.

GOLD MEDAL MOMENTS: Medal races are July 31: Men’s and women’s windsurfing; Aug 1: Men’s Laser, women’s Laser Radial; Aug 2: Men’s 49er, women’s 49erFX; Aug 3: Men’s Finn, foiling Nacra 17 mixed catamaran; Aug 4: Men’s and women’s 470. It is possible for sailors to clinch a gold medal before the medal race, which then would determine silver and bronze.

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