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The dedication to becoming an Olympian in any sport is extraordinary. Most are committed to their sport from a very young age, rising through the rankings, becoming a member of their national squads and teams, where only the best of the best make it to the pinnacle.

Mat Belcher has been a member of the Australian Sailing Team for an extraordinary 22 years, representing his country at three Olympic Games, returning with two gold medals and one silver. He’s also won ten World Championship titles.

Also a member of the Australian SSL Gold Cup Team, Mat said on his retirement:

“It was an incredibly difficult decision; I have been a member of this team for the past 22 years so closing that chapter was not a decision I took lightly.

“I have been so lucky. I have sailed with some of the greatest athletes in the world, been a part of such a successful team and have been coached by some of the greats – including Victor [Kovalenko]. It has been a long and rewarding journey, but I am now 40-years old with a young family so the time is right for me to move on to the next phase of my life.”

His crew for the past ten years, and fellow SSL Gold Cup Team member Will Ryan said of Mat:

“He has been such a fantastic role model for Australian sport. Mat has been fiercely competitive, but always sharing and encouraging others. He pushed the standards higher through his time in the game and showed with Victor how important the support team around you is to build success.”

Victor Kovalenko, who is simply known as ‘The Medal Maker’, gave the highest praise when talking about Mat:

“Mathew is the greatest Australian Olympic sailor ever. All of us will regret that he is leaving Olympic sailing, but we are sure Mathew will remain in the sport and he will bring more success for Australia in some of his new roles.”

Mat Belcher & Will Ryan with coach Victor Kovalenko at Rio 2016 (c) Sailing Energy / World Sailing
Mat Belcher & Will Ryan with coach Victor Kovalenko at Rio 2016 (c) Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, Mat is continuing his involvement in sailing, and has a long history of mentoring and encouraging young sailors in the sport. Back in 2016, when he took up a role with the Southport Yacht Club Sailing Academy, he said:

“I began my sailing career at SYC at the age of 7yrs, the Gold Coast and the Club have always been home for me, and I look forward to giving back to the juniors, as much opportunity as I received, and more.”

Mat is one of the nicest people you could meet and a great ambassador for the sport of sailing. The entire SSL Team wish him the best in his post-Olympic sailing life.

Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom wins ILCA 6 Worlds

Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist Anne-Marie Rindom continues her extraordinary form in the ILCA 6 class (formerly known as the Laser Radial), with a 20-point win in the World Championship, held on Galveston Bay, Texas, USA. The SSL Gold Cup Team Denmark sailor said after the final day:

“It’s always very stressful to be in the leading position going into the last day. And of all people, I know how much you can lose and how much you can gain, so it was very exciting.”

Anne-Marie Rindom wins the 2022 ILCA 6 Worlds (c) Helen Galli Photography
Anne-Marie Rindom wins the 2022 ILCA 6 Worlds (c) Helen Galli Photography

Rindom has had a steady rise in the ILCA 6 class, finishing 13th at the London 2012 Olympics, then winning the 2015 World Championship, and earning a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Winners are those who thrive under pressure, and Anne-Marie Rindom is one of those sailors. She leads the Women’s Helm SSL Ranking and, on this form, she will be hard to topple.