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More from J P Tobin on his battle with Tom Ashley to represent NZ in RS:X windsurfing in the 2012 Olympics

N Z Herald
If you discovered Jon-Paul Tobin had rival Tom Ashley's face up on a dartboard somewhere you might not be surprised.

After all, Tobin would now be preparing for a possible third Olympic Games campaign next year had it not been for the tall guy who also hails from the North Shore.

Ashley justified his place in Beijing three years ago with New Zealand's seventh Olympic sailing gold medal, so no arguments on that score.

It is simply a fact of New Zealand sailing life that the board sailing class has been populated by a string of high calibre athletes, going back to Bruce Kendall, gold medallist in Seoul 23 years ago through Tobin's coach Aaron McIntosh, and now Ashley and Aucklander Tobin - not to forget Barbara Kendall and her gold/silver/bronze trifecta from 1992.

Tobin is remarkably sanguine about the state of affairs as he prepares to head to the Olympic test regatta in Weymouth, England next week.

He sees the benefits of the situation.

"I think it's really healthy," he said yesterday. "Most of the top nations do have that internal rivalry."

Tobin accentuates the positive and eliminates the negative.

"I think it motivates me; actually I know it motivates me. You get to the end of every Olympic cycle and whatever the outcome you pick yourself up, refocus, and decide whether you want to do it again.

"I guess I'm pretty stubborn in that sense and it's driven me on. Now more than ever I'm focused on what I want to achieve."

There's little between the pair and Tobin reckons his form is as good as it's ever been. Tobin, who leaves on Tuesday with McIntosh to meet up with training partner Dorian van Rijsselberge, has had plenty of time at Weymouth and rates it "a super exciting venue, visually and as an athlete".

"You seem to have a lot of breeze thrown at us which means racing at high speeds, at times in excess of 50km/h around flat water areas," Tobin said.

His silver at the Sail for Gold regatta at Weymouth last month gave him a boost in self belief, but the pre-Olympic regatta will be different. Countries are limited to one entry in each of the 10 classes.

The bulk of the New Zealand squad will assemble in Weymouth on July 25, but Tobin wants as much leadup time on the water there as he can get.

"The British team are showing us what they know, and we've seen on the racecourse they know a lot. We've got to get more local than they are."

The regatta is part of the leadup to the world champs in Perth in December, which is the Olympic qualifying regatta. So a strong performance won't guarantee a trip to the Games. Even so, for those heading there this month, they know it is a serious marker for the Games selectors to consider.

The one class New Zealand won't be represented in is the women's match racing. Team director Jez Fanstone stressed that being at the pre-Olympic regatta is no indicator of inside running for this group of sailors.

"I wouldn't say that at all. Selectors will look at sailing across this whole year and athletes have to keep putting in results."

What Lies Ahead

*A New Zealand squad will contest the Olympic Games test event in Weymouth from July 31-August 13.

*New Zealand will be represented in nine of the 10 Olympic classes, the exception being the women's match racing.

*The Olympic qualifying regatta is in Perth at the world championships in December, where New Zealand sailors will be looking to secure a place in the Games field.

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