Michael Blackburn competed in the inaugural appearance of the Lasers in the Olympic Games at Atlanta 1996, where he finished a close fourth, two points behind the bronze medallist. After some excellent performances, on the international sailing stage leading up to Sydney 2000 he claimed the bronze medal in the class on Sydney Harbour, behind two giants on the water in Ben Ainslie of Great Britain and Robert Scheidt of Brazil. Between them, Ainslie and Scheidt had won every world championship since Atlanta, where they had reversed the order of their finishing at Sydney.
Blackburn, who grew up sailing on Sydney Harbour, placed third at the 2003 and 2004 world championships before competing at Athens 2004. There he finished ninth, behind Scheidt’s gold. He won the 2006 world championship and at Beijing 2008 was one of the Australian team’s sailing coaches.