When it really mattered and there were no second chances, Giorgio Poggi (ITA), took an emphatic win in the Italian Olympic trials in the Finn, with a career best fifth place at the 2016 Finn Gold Cup in Gaeta, Italy, an event which he played a part in bringing to his home country.
The Italian trials had drifted on for many months, with not one of the four or five sailors really meeting the necessary criteria for selection. So Gaeta was the final chance. Poggi produced his best performance ever to be the only Italian to make the medal race, which he almost won to cement his fifth place overall, and eventually, selection for Rio.
“I knew it would not be easy to reach the result that my federation ask for (top 6) at the Finn Gold Cup to be eligible for the Olympics.”
For Poggi, this moment had been a long time coming after missing out in 2012, after a similarly heated trials against the same group of sailors. This time around his focus and preparation was almost flawless. He says he would not have changed anything. And now he gets the chance he has been waiting for the last eight years – to better his 11th place at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. There, he put together a reasonable series but just finished outside the medal race. He has unfinished business.
His coach today, Emilios Papathanasiou (GRE), was also his rival in 2008. “Emilios and I were sailing partners for Beijing 2008 but mostly we are just friends; we call each other brother. In April 2014, I was a bit confused with my target and what to do, so I spoke with Emilios to get some suggestions for my preparation for the trials for Rio. He had come to Hyeres in 2014 to see me racing and then everything happened.”
Poggi also teamed up with Alican Kaynar (TUR), who will be heading into his second Olympics in Rio. “I met Alican in the Dinghy Academy. We had the same view and target so we decided to have a training camp together with Emilios. It is a pleasure to work with him, and I can really say that we are a real team.”
Poggi had spent long time at the Dinghy Academy before and then came back there for three months in December 2014. “In the last four years a lot of things have changed. We have new boats, new masts, a lot of new models of sails. I worked a lot in the training to understand which is the best combination of material for my way of sailing.”
He has had a lot of help along the way from sponsors and supporters. “To make all these things happen, I need to say thanks to Filippo La Scala, who was not only the sponsor (Garnell Sailing Team) but also a friend that follows all my regattas, and all Alican regattas, until both of us got selected by our national federations for the Olympics. He also brought a lot of things to the team that we were missing. Emilios, Alican and I are almost only sailors, so Filippo brought a vision from the point of view of a manager and this was a big value added to the team.”
“Without the work we did as a team before, it was probably impossible to have this result and the best part was to share with them all the emotion after the medal race in Gaeta.”
For the future, “Finn sailors are always younger and younger, taller and more fit... not good news for my career...I'm getting older. And after the Olympics I only have really short time to prepare myself to be father again.”
Going into Rio “I don't have any expectations, as you know, it is a game, you can win, you can lose. Who knows? I only know that I will be well prepared. I will spend my last days home and spend most of the time with my wife and my daughter, fix all the things so that when I will leave my home for Rio I'm fully focussed only on me and sailing.”