Defending Gold at Rio Paralympics


To win a Paralympic gold medal in the SKUD18 a team needs to be in-sync with each other on the water, and as current Paralympic champions in the class, Australia’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch certainly are. But, out of the water, their personalities are totally different ends of the spectrum.

Fitzgibbon explains how it all works for them saying, “Sailing is such a unique sport that throws challenges for different people. I have my challenges and Liesl has her own challenges on the water but somehow, we are very polar opposite in our personalities and not very usual in how we are, but we meet somewhere in the middle to make a normal person. I’m the still water to her rapids.”


Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch

Echoing her partner’s thoughts, Tesch says, “Us coming together is a magic combination of calm and energy that just balances perfectly on the boat.”

If London 2012 is to go by, the combination is magical. They won the Two Person Keelboat class. Defending that title may be a little harder though this time around according to Fitzgibbon, “It’s going to be a challenging venue. I’ve sailed a lot and I feel this is probably the most challenging venue I’ve ever sailed in. Anyone can win this regatta coming up and that will be great for the viewers.”

It isn’t just the venue that will make the SKUD18 attractive to viewers, the boat itself allows for any level of disability to compete on a level playing field, as Tesch notes, “The SKUD18, our boat, is an awesome boat designed for anybody to be out there on the water. I mean Daniel is one of the most disabled people in the Paralympic fleet but we are very competitive out there on the water.”

With an ‘awesome’ boat, a ‘challenging venue’ and two personalities that are so different, winning another gold medal will be difficult for the Aussie team, but for Tesch just performing at their peak is enough, “We both want to do the best we can. That’s not necessarily win, but just perform as individuals and bring that together as one unit to perform the best we possibly can.”

If the duo can perform to their best, there is a good chance another medal will follow judging by their history of results in major regattas. They are multiple World and Sailing World Cup champions as well as the defending Paralympic champions.

Fitzgibbon and Tesch begin the defence of their Paralympic gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on the Pão de Açucar race area of Guanabara Bay.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will take place on September 7-18 with the sailing scheduled to be raced on September 12-17 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Competition will be held in three events: 2.4 Norlin OD (singlehanded), SKUD18 (doublehanded), and Sonar (triplehanded).

Event detailsEntry listNotice of Race

Source: World Sailing

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