Sailors can dominate again, says Stephen Park
27 July 2012
Loughborough University post graduate Stephen Park, OBE, believes his Team GB sailors could win a hatful of medals at the London 2012 Olympics.
Stephen, who did an MSc in Recreational Management at Loughborough, has led Great Britain to 11 medals at the last two Olympics and he is upbeat about their prospects of another big haul at London 2012, starting on Sunday at Weymouth.
Stephen, known as Sparky, told The Sun: “We have 10 boats and 10 chances — it’s a very good position to be in.
“It’s our aim to turn up with realistic chances in all 10 events and I think we’re not far off. We can reasonably justify eight of those without any trouble.
“The ninth we could pretty easily justify and the 10th we’re just a little bit off. But they medalled in 50 per cent of the competitions last year so we’re not far away.”
Stephen believes Team GB boast their best ever team but he admits it will be tough.
He said: “We try to work on converting 50 per cent of our medal prospects into actual medals.
“There are always lots of factors. We should deliver around four or five medals. Not as many would be a disaster. Three would be a minimum of satisfaction.
“It’s getting tougher. We have a better team than we’ve ever had but there are more countries with better sailors than ever before.
“At a recent World Cup, with nine Olympic events there were nine nations with a gold each.”
Team GB won six medals at Beijing 2008, including four golds, their best haul in 100 years, and this time they are on home waters.
Stephen said: “Weymouth and Portland is a fantastic site. It’s not for a one-trick pony. You need to be able to sail in lots of conditions.
“That is the changeable face of British coastal weather. We’re fortunate to have a good meteorologist who works with us all year round. We spend a lot of time and money to give the best knowledge we can to the sailors.”
Stephen, 44, was born in Glasgow, and learnt his sailing in Mirror dinghies and 420s at Helensburgh Sailing Club.
He took a BA degree in sport at the Scottish School of Physical Education at Jordanhill before heading to Loughborough University and then Newcastle Business School where he did a postgraduate diploma in management studies.
He went on to work for the Royal Yachting Association Scotland and the Welsh Yachting Association, and competed in both the 470 and Tornado disciplines at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games respectively.
In 2001, at the age of 33, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) appointed him Olympic Manager.
At Athens 2004, Great Britain won five medals, including two gold, one silver and two bronze, and were the most successful sailing nation as well as sailing being Britain’s most successful sport.