Scheidt to roll back the years in Olympic Laser fleet

Robert Scheidt

Robert Scheidt is the captain of the SSL team Brazil for SSL Gold Cup 2022, and he is one of the few sailors with five Olympic medals and in Rio, he missed the sixth one by few points. He is going back to try to win the sixth one in Tokyo, in the Laser class, a very physical boat with young sailors, and Robert is 48 racing against some 20 something-year-old sailors. He won his first gold medal in 1996 at 19 on this very same boat, the Laser.

The simplest of all dinghies, and barely changed since it surfaced 50 years ago, the Laser made its first Olympic appearance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

A 23-year-old Brazilian called Robert Scheidt narrowly won the gold medal in Atlanta ahead of Great Britain’s 19-year-old Ben Ainslie. Somehow, a quarter of a century and seven Games appearances later, the Brazilian magician will be vying for the podium yet again.

Winner of five Olympic medals and narrowly missing out five years ago on home waters at Rio 2016 where he finished an agonising fourth place, Scheidt is defying his age and setting out to prove that a 48-year-old can conquer athletes half his age.

“The competition is very tough and the boat is very demanding from a physical point of view,” says Scheidt.

“But I’m motivated to improve my competitiveness. I’m going to fight as hard as I can in Tokyo for another podium finish. Clearly it’s not so easy anymore because the years go by, but I think I can get to Tokyo in good shape. It was a difficult decision, because I stopped for two years after Rio, doing other things in the world of sailing, but now I’m going there with great commitment. I don’t like to go just to attend the event, I want to be ready and play for a medal once more.”

Even the dedicated Brazilian would admit that he is no longer considered the favourite for gold, however. Back in his heyday, the nine-time Laser World Champion started every regatta as the stand-out favourite. Then along came Australia’s Tom Slingsby who dominated for a few years, culminating in a straightforward cruise to Olympic gold at London 2012. Four years later in Rio, Tom Burton continued Australia’s winning ways, narrowly beating Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) in his bid to become Croatia’s first ever Olympic Champion in sailing.

Racing in the Laser fleet will commence at 14:30 on the Kamakura racing area on Sunday 25 July. The 35-boat fleet will sail ten races ahead of their Medal Race on Sunday 1 August.

A full list of competitors is available HERE.

Source: World Sailing – Andy Rice