SAILOR Will Ryan, the grandson of well-known doctors the late Bill and Pat Ryan, as well as Mathew Belcher and Matt Wearn have been announced as the first Australian Olympic Team members selected for Tokyo 2020.
Ryan and Belcher, reigning World Champions and Rio 2016 silver medallists in the 470 Class and Wearn, the current world number 1 ranked Laser sailor, were nominated by Australian Sailing and officially selected by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
37-year-old Belcher will be sailing in his third Olympics, after winning gold at London 2012 with Malcolm Page and silver at Rio 2016 with Ryan. 30-year old Ryan is returning for his second Games, while 23-year-old Wearn will make his Olympic debut.
Australian Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Ian Chesterman said today's announcement is a great milestone for the Australian Olympic Team.
"It is wonderful to have three such high calibre athletes named today, the first of what we expect will be a team of around 480 athletes representing Australia in Tokyo," Chesterman said.
"Each has an amazing record in their sport and can now focus on their preparations for the Olympic Games next year."
"Congratulations not only to the athletes on their selection, but their coaches, teammates, Australian Sailing, the Australian Institute of Sport and state institutes, families and supporters who have helped them become the athletes they are today.
"Australia are fortunate to have incredibly strong competition and depth across the sailing classes, and we know these athletes add to Australia's rich Olympic legacy.
"That legacy includes Australia winning its first ever Olympic sailing gold at the Tokyo 1964 Games, at Enoshima Harbour which will also host the sailing regatta next year."
Ryan, fresh off a gold medal at the Tokyo test event, stressed the importance of the close bond between teammates, such as Belcher.
"It's a unique partnership with Mat and our coach Victor Kovalenko," Ryan said.
"We've had so much time to learn about each other.
"The motivation and determination from coming second at Rio, and this time being hungry for that top spot, to share the journey with people you're close to and have worked so closely with is really special.
"It's a huge honour to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics, it's second time round for Mat and I but the feeling doesn't get any less.
"Coming into this last year the excitement will be building."
Australian Sailing president Matt Allen AM highlighted the depth of the Australian Sailing Team.
"Australian Sailing has a proud history of success at the Olympics, and this group is no different," Allen said.
"We have won six gold medals at the past three games, and we head to Tokyo with three classes currently ranked in the top three in the world including two top seeds."
Australian Sailing is expected to nominate athletes for selection in additional classes early in 2020.