Boardsailor JP Tobin blasts New Zealand selection policy for Rio Olympics

Unwanted New Zealand boardsailor JP Tobin will coach the Brazil team at the Rio Olympics.
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Unwanted New Zealand boardsailor JP Tobin will coach the Brazil team at the Rio Olympics.

Olympian JP Tobin has hit out at Yachting New Zealand's selection policy for Rio that has left the boardsailing classes vacant for August's Games.

Tobin, who finished seventh at the last Games in London and qualified his class for Rio, abandoned his latest Olympic campaign citing a lack of support and funding as he endured a roller-coaster ride with the national association's high performance squad.

Women's boardsailor Natalia Kosinska and women's Radial Laser sailor Sara Winther were also both overlooked for Rio selection when the final additions were made to New Zealand's sailing team on Tuesday.

Winther and Kosinska have signalled they intend to appeal via the Sports Tribunal, having qualified their classes in 2014.

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They self-funded their late bids for inclusion that fell short, with the selectors not convinced they were medal contenders after some mixed results over the past year.

New Zealand sailors will only contest seven of the 10 classes at the Games.

Tobin, whose last two world championship efforts were 16th and 17th,  will still be involved in the Rio Olympics, ironically helping coach the Brazil windsurfing team.

He has been outspoken in his disappointment at windsurfing's treatment in this Olympic cycle, with the sport lacking Kiwi representation for the first time since it was introduced to the Games in 1984.

And he didn't miss the chance to comment on the selection ruckus via his Facebook page.

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"This is a nonsense and only serves to improve the chances of other nations winning medals in Rio," Tobin said of leaving three classes empty.

"YNZ and their selectors have in fact done the rest of the world a favour."

He maintained the three classes are "all medal capable" for New Zealand.

While heavily funded YNZ are strict with their selection policy, Tobin felt the Games were also about participation.

"Some guy once said 'winning medals wasn't the point of the Olympics. It's the participating that counts'. (The)  same guy just happened to be the man responsible for the modern Olympic Games movement ... Pierre de Coubertin."

Tobin conceded "at the same time this is true, the reality is that medals are required for the Olympic-go-round".

But he noted the sharp selection policy had seen a trend in the reduction of the New Zealand sailing team over the past two Olympics – "one less in 2012 now three less in 2016 really ask's the question where is this all heading?"

Windsurfing's demise was particularly disappointing because fo the rich Olympic history Kiwis had provided through Bruce Kendall, Barbara Kendall, Tom Ashley and Aaron McIntosh.

He questioned the windsurfing expertise of the current selectors.

"The bottom line is their current knowledge of the sport of windsurfing at Olympic level is simply not up to a level required for an informed and correct decision," Tobin claimed.

"Athletes who dedicate a significant period of their lives to representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games should expect to have their selections dealt with by experts in the sport.

"For me the writing was on the wall some months ago when I was included in the New Zealand team only to be told zero assistance of any kind would be forthcoming to my campaign for Rio.

"I attempted to bridge the funding gap through the coaching of other countries athletes however in doing so the the time and energy requirement involved in enhancing other campaigns resulted in my own campaign going into neutral while my competitors sailed away."

He said working with the Brazilian team was "the next best thing to campaigning myself (arguably better)" and asked windsurfing fans to "cheer loudly for the home team in Rio".

YNZ maintain they supported their sailors correctly through this Olympics cycle and made no apologies for "setting the bar high" with a selection policy they believe has the seven classes involved at Rio all having medal potential.

 - Stuff

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