New Zealand sailors slam Rio water pollution

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:04 24/07/2014
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech
Yvan Zedda
NOT HAPPY: Kiwi sailors Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have condemned the polluted waters at an Olympic test event in Rio.

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New Zealand world champion sailors Alex Maloney and Molly Meech have condemned the polluted Olympic waters, hoping the Kiwi team "make it out of Rio without getting sick" at next week's test regatta in Brazil.

The pair, world champions in the exciting new women's 49erFX class that will make its Olympics debut in 2016, are the first New Zealanders to arrive in Rio de Janeiro for an event that will be crucial to getting a feel for local conditions.

And they have been quick to voice their concerns about the Guanabara Bay waters that have been widely criticised for their appalling pollution levels.

"The scenery is breath-taking, with the mountains that surround the bay and steep cliffs leading into the water. You can just imagine what Rio would have looked like when the explorers first found it. Before humans inhabited the bays, it must have been a luscious, beautiful paradise, where we have been told whales once had their breeding grounds," they wrote on their regular blog for sponsors Red Bull.

"Unfortunately, with the hillside Favelas, comes the run off of human waste, and the once clean water now looks not so appealing with rubbish swimming in it and the water taking on a dirty brown colour.

"We have our fingers crossed that all of our team makes it out of Rio without getting sick!"

Games organisers and city officials have launched a campaign to improve water conditions for the Games but they clearly face a massive job over the next two years.

New Zealand have 18 sailors involved in the Olympics test event.

These include Olympic gold medalists and world champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (women's 470) and Olympic silver medalists and world champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er).

They will be into training over the next week for competition racing that starts from August 3.

There are 34 countries involved in this regatta, with 320 sailors on 250 boats.

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