Rio gold medal-winning champions claim coveted men's and women's world accolades
Olympic Champions Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark have been revealed as the female Rolex World Sailors of the Year at a glittering awards ceremony in Barcelona yesterday evening.
Argentina’s Santiago Lange, who provided Rio 2016 with the fairy tale storyline of the Olympic Games when he claimed gold with Cecilia Carranza Saroli in the Nacra 17, was named winner of the men’s Rolex World Sailor of the Year accolade.
Emphatic winners of the 470 Women’s event at the Rio 2016 Games, Mills and Clark beat four other female Olympic Champions to the coveted annual prize, ensuring the perfect end to their partnership as Clark bows out of Olympic competition.
The British Sailing Team duo were up against Dutch Laser Radial winner Marit Bouwmeester (NED), RS:X windsurfing gold medallist Charline Picon (FRA), Nacra 17 gold medal-winning crew Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) and 49erFX Olympic Champions Martine Grael-Kahena Kunze (BRA), and emerged victorious from a combination of public votes, votes from World Sailing’s Member National Authorities around the world, and on-the-night attendees.
Rio Finn gold medallist and four-time World Champion Giles Scott was among the five male nominees, but was pipped to the prize by 55-year-old Santiago Lange. New Zealand’s 49er Champions Peter Burling-Blair Tuke, 470 Men’s winners Sime Fantela-Igor Marenic (CRO) and 2.4mR Paralympic gold medallist Damien Seguin (FRA) were also in the running.
Receiving their award, Mills described the occasion as ‘completely overwhelming’: We’re so grateful to everyone who’s here tonight to celebrate sailing and what a fantastic sport it is. Thank you to everyone who voted for us, but also to all the other nominees who were just incredible this summer. Rio was a fantastic Games and the Brazilians put on an amazing show. Everyone had to deliver their absolute best performance.
‘It’s really emotional, thank you very much everyone.’
Clark added: ‘We owe a big thank you to our coach Joe Glanfield who’s been a massive part of this, and all our family at British Sailing.
“This is just an amazing end to our partnership together.”
The winners of the 2016 Rolex World Sailors of the Year were announced at an impressive awards ceremony held at the 18th century Casa Llotja De Mar, in the presence of some 500 guests.
At 54-years-old, six-time Olympian and two-time bronze medal winner, Lange was the oldest sailor competing at the Rio 2016 Games, but his story goes beyond his age. Just one year prior to the Games Lange was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a lung removed. Making the start line of the competition was an achievement in itself for the resilient Argentinean. Lange showed what is possible when passion is backed by courage and determination.
‘This is a very emotional moment in a very long sailing career. It is a win for ‘us’ because I could not have done it without Cecilia. I want to thank all the other nominees, they are athletes I really admire. Only the very best win gold medals at the Games, and I have a lot of respect for all the other nominees.’
As reward for his achievement, Lange was recipient of a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 and a marble and silver trophy depicting the globe, crowned with five silver spinnakers representing the continents.
Marking their triumph, Mills and Clark both received engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 35s and the same marble and silver trophy as Lange
At the beginning of the memorable evening, HM King Constantine, World Sailing President of Honour, remarked that these awards were ‘in recognition of an achievement that has been many years in the making. Every sailor on the nominee list has the ability to inspire the next generation and strengthen the legacy that our sport and every sport needs.’
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