Oman’s young sailors have made history with the Sultanate earning a place at a Youth Olympic Games sailing event for the first time ever.
For the first time, a sailor from the Oman Sail youth squad will represent the country at a Youth Olympic Games (YOG), racing in the Men’s Windsurfing Techno 293+ class in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October.
The historic development was announced earlier in the year by World Sailing, yacht racing’s global governing body, when Oman was awarded a special ‘universality place’ in recognition of the youth team’s impressive performances at international YOG qualifying regattas since 2016.
Universality places are awarded by the International Olympic Committee only to athletes meeting the required technical level and eligibility criteria.
“This has truly been a team effort with every member of the Oman Sail youth squad playing a part in this great achievement,” said Oman Sail CEO David Graham.
“Winning a place at the Youth Olympic Games is the result of hard work by the sailors and their coaches and also marks a significant milestone in Oman Sail’s long-term objective to secure qualification for the 2024 Olympic Games,” said Oman Sail CEO David Graham.
“Recent results have demonstrated how far the windsurfing squad has come and we congratulate the whole team as the coaches work towards making their selection of the sailor who will represent Oman in Buenos Aires,” he added.
The Oman Sail Youth Windsurf Programme was set up in 2014, with a national team making its international debut in 2016, followed by the Youth Worlds and European Championships in 2017.
Earlier this year youth squads competed at their first ever Asian Windsurfing Championships and secured top-10 finishes in the silver fleet at the Techno Plus European Championships in Sicily as well as the Mayor of Sopot Regatta last month in Poland (finished third).
“This was an historic moment to see Oman awarded its first ever sailing place at a Youth Olympic Games,” said Sheikh Khalid Al Zubair, Oman Olympic Committee Chairman.
“It reflects the efforts exerted by those managing the development of this sport in the Sultanate and the progress made by these young talents in such a short time. We wish the selected sailor all the best of luck in representing Oman and delivering an outstanding performance.”
Olympic rules limit countries to a single place in each sailing category. The final selection decision for Buenos Aires will be made by the Oman Sail performance management team following the Techno 293+ world championship in Latvia in August and further training camps in Oman.
Ceri Williams, Executive Secretary of the International Windsurfing Association, paid tribute to the youth squad’s success and Oman Sail’s development strategy.
“Windsurfing is a relatively new sport in Oman, but we have been working closely with the sailing authorities there to encourage this development.
“It is especially gratifying to see the hard work put in by sailors, coaches, officials and sponsors now delivering results. Over the past few years it has been noticeable how the teams coming to international class championships have improved.
“From the contacts I have made I feel sure that progress will be maintained and we will all benefit from the dedication to the sport shown by Oman Sail.”
Oman Sail was set up in 2008 as a pioneering national initiative to reconnect Omanis with their maritime heritage and use sailing to promote socio-economic development and tourism. Alongside other projects, including the Women’s Sailing Programme, the Oman Sail Performance Pathway was also established with the ultimate goal of winning an Olympic sailing medal.