NZ Nacra sailors committed to Tokyo Games
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders will have another crack at winning the Olympic medal that so narrowly eluded them in Rio.
4 September 2017
Kiwi sailors Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are banking on a long-distance sailing relationship to reap rewards at the 2020 Olympics.
The Nacra 17 crewmates have committed to a campaign to compete at the Games in Tokyo, where they will be desperate to improve on an unlucky fourth placing at last year's Olympics in Rio.
A feature of their partnership will be that Jones lives in Auckland while Saunders is in France.
Saunders believes their unusual setup will be a help rather than a hindrance, with most of the major Olympic class regattas staged in Europe.
"I think there are a lot benefits to having a good solid base in Europe," Saunders said.
"Having me set up in France, I can handle when shipping arrives and even just having a place to store some gear sometimes.
"And I will be coming back to train in New Zealand. I think it can work better than it has for us previously."
After time out of the boat post-Rio, Jones and Saunders recently shared a boat at the world championships test event in Aahus, Denmark, where they placed second.
That was a notable achievement given the lack of time they had spent together in the new foiling craft.
It gives them confidence ahead of the world championships beginning on Tuesday at La Grande-Motte, France.
"If we sail well, we think we are definitely in with a shot of a podium, and that's always the goal at the worlds," Saunders said.
"We definitely have the tools to go out there and put in a really good result."
The pair will, though, come under pressure to remain as the top New Zealand crew over the Olympic cycle with youngsters Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson showing considerable potential in the class.
That's not the only motivation for Jones and Saunders.
"It was pretty tough taking fourth (in Rio)," Saunders said.
"No one wants to take the leather medal home but someone has to, I suppose.
"We just feel like we've got a lot more to give and we didn't show everyone the best of us."
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