For U.S. sailors Zach Railey and Caleb Paine, the race toward the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games can’t get much closer.
Just one point separates them in the U.S. Olympic Team selection process entering the second and final qualifying event.
Only one of them can go to Rio.
Railey maintains a narrow lead from the first selection event, the ISAF Miami World Cup in January. The second event, the Finn European Championship, begins Friday in Barcelona, Spain. And since a tie would be broken by the better performance in the final event, the Finn European Championship comes down to Railey versus Paine.
It is a battle of veteran Railey, who competed at two Olympics and won a silver medal in 2008 before taking a three-year hiatus and returning last November, and newcomer Paine, who has been at the forefront of the Finn class in the U.S. since 2012.
Here’s a closer look at Railey and Paine:
2016 ISAF Miami World Cup
Railey: Fifth place (top American)
Paine: Sixth place (second American)
Olympic selection standing entering Finn European Championship
Railey: First place
Paine: Second place, one point behind Railey
|Zach Railey competes in men's Finn at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Weymouth & Portland Venue on Aug. 3, 2012 in Weymouth, England.|
ISAF World Ranking (February 2016)
Railey: “To be basically even, which is what we’ll be going into the second (Olympic selection) event, I feel very confident.“
Paine: “I’m right behind him (Railey). Basically we’re tied, in terms of Olympic qualification. It’s who beats who.”
Railey: Clearwater, Florida
Paine: San Diego, California
|Caleb Paine competes in the Finn gold fleet race at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships on Dec. 10, 2011 in Perth, Australia.|
Railey: Laser Radial
Paine: Laser Radial
Railey: 2012, 2008; won silver medal in Finn class at Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Paine: Seeking his first U.S. Olympic Team berth
Railey: Three-time US Sailing Sportsman of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010); captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team
Paine: Earned the U.S. berth into the 2016 Olympic Games by merit of his seventh-place finish at the 2014 world championships
Railey: Gold medal, 2012 Miami World Cup; silver medal, 2011 Hyeres World Cup; silver, 2008 Olympic Games
Paine: First place, 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup series; bronze medal, 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final; gold medal, 2013 Miami World Cup
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Fifteen sailors will represent Team USA at the Rio Games. The Olympic boats for each class are selected based on results from two selection competitions.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.