Clearwater Sailors Chosen For Olympic Sailing Program
By Anne McKay Garris
Zach Railey, the Clearwater Sailor who brought home a Silver Medal from the 2008 Olympics, is among the athletes chosen by the US Sailing organization to be part of an elite team of sailors preparing for the 2012 Olympic competition in England.
Championship sailors, Paige Railey and Emily Billing from Clearwater, were also chosen for the United States Sailing Team, termed AlphaGrapics for their major sponsor, and referred to as USSTAG. Brad Funk, who was originally sponsored by the Clearwater Yacht Club, is also a team member, now living in Plantation, Florida.
Sailors chosen for the USSTAG will benefit from the US Sailing's program of coaching, fitness training, financial assistance and experience competing in some of the top international regattas between now and the 2012 Olympics.
In 2009 alone, the sailors will compete in Germany, Spain, Holland, England and France. Membership on the USSTAG will not guarantee a place on the United States Olympic or Paralympic Teams which will represent the United States in England in 2012. The sailors will face competition against other United States sailors for that.
US Sailing is the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States. Participants in their Olympic and Paralympic teams are chosen from the top United States sailors, based on their record as winners in a host of lesser events including US Sailing's 2009 Rolex Miami competition.
Zach Railey is competing in the Finn heavy weight dinghy. Paige Railey, Emily Billings and Brad Funk race the Laser one-person dinghies.
Allison Jolly, who brought Olympic Gold back to the Tampa Bay Area in 1988, is also a member of the USSTAG. She is from St. Petersburg.
When Zach Railey celebrated his 2008 silver medal victory at the Clearwater Yacht Club, someone asked him when he would start training for the 2012 Olympics, he answered, "Tomorrow!"
Life for Zach and his fellow team members is a constant round of practicing, improving their skills, working on physical fitness fundraising and competing in regattas throughout the world.
Of these young people, US Sailing's Olympic Sailing Chairman Dean Brenner says, "We're excited to see a new generation of talented sailors dedicated to Olympic excellence. We have a strong group of talented sailors who are showing great promise. Most importantly, they are working extremely hard, and I am sure the results will follow."
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