Michael Blackburn appointed Australian Sailing Technical Director

Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medal winning coach, Michael Blackburn, will continue to play a leading role in shaping the future of Australia’s high performance sailing program after being announced the new Australian Sailing Technical Director.

As Technical Director, Blackburn will be responsible for leading the group of national coaches and providing broader direction over the Australian Sailing high performance system.

Blackburn comes to the role highly credentialled. On top coaching athletes to 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medals, he is a two-time Australian Institute of Sport Coach of the Year, four-time Australian Sailing Coach of the Year, current member of the AIS National High Performance Coach Development Taskforce, and a contributor to the AIS Gold Medal Ready Coaches Network.

“I am incredibly excited about taking up this new opportunity with Australian Sailing,” said Blackburn, the Laser Bronze medallist from the Sydney 2000 Games.

“We have a fantastic team of athletes, coaches and staff at the Australian Sailing Team, and I look forward to continuing my work with them. This new role adds capacity to our coach development strategy and gives us the ability to address key strategic priorities including adding depth to our classes and continuing to develop our female athletes.”

Blackburn will report to, and work in partnership with, the Australian Sailing High Performance Director. Blackburn’s technical sailing expertise will complement the work being done by the High-Performance Director who will oversee the strategy, planning processes and resourcing of the program.

TMichael Blackburn the coach after Tom Burton won Gold in 2016 – Sailing Energy, World Sailing pic

Having Blackburn on deck for the foreseeable future will assist in providing a level of stability and continuity within the team. It will also allow a smooth transition across Olympic cycles and ensure Australia is well placed to continue to deliver repeatable podium success at Olympic and World Championship regattas.

“I want to congratulate Michael Blackburn on his appointment to the new role. This is a critical leadership and development position within our high-performance program, and I want to thank Michael for accepting.” Australian Sailing CEO Ben Houston said.

Current High Performance Director consultant Mike McGovern will complete his project brief post Tokyo and transition back to his High-Performance consultancy business after the Games.

Having set the new Australian Sailing High Performance Strategy “#nextlevel – Towards Paris 2024 & LA 2028”, McGovern will work with the team in the second half of 2021 to ensure a seamless handover to the new High Performance Director.

Australian Sailing will now begin a global search to fill the High-Performance Director role.

“On behalf of Australian Sailing I would like to thank and congratulate Mike for the work he has done in his time as our High-Performance Director,” Houston continued.

“We have an outstanding team of people and Mike has made a significant leadership contribution to the team’s success and setting out the future direction for the HP program towards LA 2028 and hopefully Brisbane in 2032.

Current Australian Sailing Director – Tokyo 2020 Olympic Campaign, Iain Murray AM, is in discussions to remain with the team for the Paris Olympiad in an advisory project-based role.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are set to commence with the Opening Ceremony on the 23rd of July, with the first sailing races taking place on the 25th on Enoshima Harbour.

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