Bangor sailor Espey qualifies for Olympics

James Espey has extended Irish yachting interest in the Olympic Games to a fourth event, after qualifying for London through the Laser World Championships in Germany.

James Espey has extended Irish yachting interest in the Olympic Games to a fourth event, after qualifying for London through the Laser World Championships in Germany.

Espey, a 28-year-old from Ballyholme Yacht Club in Bangor, qualified for London after four days of racing in Boltenhagen by making the Gold fleet, which is one step away from the world medal races.

In the eight races to date this week, Espey has scored the following finishes in his group - 7, (29), 3, 20, 18, 17, 22,19 – to lie 30th overall.

Espey is currently second from nations not yet qualified, of which six have made it into the Gold fleet races at an event where twelve Olympic slots are up for grabs.

The Bangor yachtsman joins Annalise Murphy (Laser Radial), Peter O’Leary and David Burrows (Star), and Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern (49er) at this summer’s Olympics, where the sailing events have been allocated to Weymouth and Portland on England’s south-west coast.

It’s a big boost for Irish yachting, with Irish Sailing Association performance director James O’Callaghan very pleased.

O'Callaghan said: "I am delighted for James to achieve Olympic qualification. He has worked hard as an independent athlete to achieve his goal and we look forward to working together as part of the Olympic Sailing Team to achieve further success at London 2012."

At the Olympics, competitors contest 10 races (15 for the 49er) with points awarded depending on finishing positions in each race (1 point for first, 41 for 41st).

Each boat is allowed to discard its worst score and the ten boats with the lowest accumulated scores qualify for the medal race, where points scored are doubled and added to the opening series’ scores to decide the top ten positions.

The Olympic Council of Ireland has also announced today that Chloe Magee has formally qualified for the Olympics, having been ranked 26th of the 46 qualifiers named in the Badminton World Federation long list.

Chloe and brother Sam are third on the doubles reserve list, having not made the main draw.

Derek Burnett has been named as an Olympic qualifier in shooting, sending the Longford marksman to his fourth Games, having finished ninth in Athens in 2004.

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