Olympics not top priority for Slingsby

15 November 2013

SAILING: Tom Slingsby has re-signed with rich America's Cup champions Oracle Team USA in a decision that appears likely to scupper any hopes of him repeating his London Olympic heroics.

Slingsby rescued Australia from its silver medal malaise at the London Games, winning Australia's first individual gold medal of the 2012 Olympics, with victory in the Laser class dinghy.

But the 29-year-old has now put his Olympic career on hold, re-signing with Oracle Team USA - backed by billionaire software boss Larry Ellison - and saying he wants to concentrate on the lucrative America's Cup competition for now.

Slingsby hasn't completely ruled out competing in the heavyweight Finn class at the 2016 Rio Games.

But he suggested he no longer has the motivation for a gruelling Olympics campaign, which would mean competing and travelling relentlessly all over the world for the next three years.

"It's not entirely off the table, no," Slingsby told AAP.

"At the moment I'm going to concentrate on the America's Cup but in a year or two, if my schedule permits and I've got that drive back to jump in a Finn and have a crack at an Olympic campaign, who knows? I might do it."

Slingsby insisted he could make a comeback to Olympic sailing just a year before Rio.

But that would allow him little time to reach the very high level needed to win a medal in the competitive Finn class.

"I wouldn't do it unless I had a chance of winning," he added.

"So if I do come back it means I think I can win."

Australian sailing team boss Peter Conde said the door was not closed for Slingsby to return to the Olympic fold.

He added: "It will be up to Tom to decide, if circumstances change, whether to take up those opportunities in the future."

Slingsby decided to re-sign with Oracle Team USA - who secured a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Emirates Team New Zealand in September's America's Cup final series on San Francisco Bay - because of their track record and professional set-up.

He served as the boat's tactician alongside Australian skipper and close mate, Jimmy Spithill.

Slingsby's decision also dashes any hopes of him joining Bob Oatley's Australian challenger for the next America's Cup, due to take place in 2017.

Miles Godfrey

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