OLYMPIC GAMES: Star sailor Ryan Seaton ready for Rio challenge

Ryan Seaton at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games. Pic: Presseye / Inpho
Ryan Seaton at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games. Pic: Presseye / Inpho

Ryan Seaton has his sights set on a medal as he gears up for his second appearance at the Olympics.

The Carrickfergus Sailing Club star comepted with team-mate Matt McGovern (Ballyholme) in London four years ago where the pair, representing Ireland, finished in 14th place. This time around they are hoping for a podium position.

Olympic sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern. INCT 38-001-PSB Photo: Phillip Byrne

Olympic sailors Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern. INCT 38-001-PSB Photo: Phillip Byrne

“We realistically have a chance of a medal, however there are about eight teams who could all take the medals; it’s a close field,” said Seaton, a former Downshire School pupil.

He and McGovern take part in the demanding 49er class where they will be up against stiff competition from four-times world champions New Zealand who have dominated the discipline in recent years.

Earlier this year the pair were officially selected to represent Team Ireland at the Olympics and they will be aiming to capitalise on several fine displays in the lead-up to this summer’s showpiece.

In February they claimed a top-10 finish at sailing’s World Championships in the United States of America. They finished 10th overall, boosting their hopes of a big challenge in Rio.

Two months later their good form continued with a gold medal win at the Olympic classes regatta in Mallorca.

Riding the crest of a wave when their selection was confirmed, they wrote on Facebook: “This will be our second Olympics sailing together and we are looking forward to doing our country proud!”

The duo qualified in fifth for the 2012 Olympics but ended up having to settle for 14th. It brought the reality of the fine margins of sailing into perspective. However, they banked the experience and in a recent interview with this newspaper, Seaton said they are determined to build on it. “Looking back at now, I wouldn’t say it was a disappointment but rather it was good experience,” he reflected.

“It was our first Olympics together and I think we both took away a lot from it. We were showing potential going into it that we could’ve maybe taken away a medal but it was a big ask. Now we’re one of the most experienced teams in the fleet and hopefully it’s about going to Rio this time and doing the business.”

Speaking this week from Rio, Seaton added: “We will take many things from our time in London. We know each other better now, we have learnt more about working as a team and, also, we are always aiming to improve our sailing. We treat every day like a school day.

n Jordanstown native Stephanie Meadow, who finished third at the US Women’s Open in 2014, will also be in Brazil competing for Ireland in ladies’ golf. The 24-year-old former Belfast High pupil tweeted: “Pretty pumped I’ll be representing Ireland in the Olympics.”