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Olympic Sailing Gold Medalist Kevin Burnham Passes Away At 63

By Todd Kortemeier | Nov. 27, 2020, 5:59 p.m. (ET)

Kevin Burnham (left) and Paul Foerster (right) celebrate winning gold at the Olympic Games Athens 2004 on Aug. 21, 2004 in Athens.


Kevin Burnham, a three-time Olympic sailor and two-time medalist, has died after a long battle with pulmonary disease at the age of 63.

“Kevin’s accomplishments as a sailor are extraordinary and his Olympic spirit is iconic,” said President of US Sailing Cory Sertl in a news release. “We will remember the energy he had for coaching and teaching sailing. Kevin was an inspiration to so many and will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.”

A native of Queens, New York, Burnham made his Olympic debut in Men’s 470 at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992, winning a silver medal with Morgan Reeser. Burnham also competed in Atlanta in 1996, then broke through to his first gold medal in Athens in 2004. Burnham and Paul Foerster became the first American men to win gold in the Men’s 470, and to date, the most recent to do so. Besides the Olympic Games, Burnham also competed in prestigious races such as the Sydney-Hobart Race, the Newport to Bermuda Race and was an 11-time national champion.

Later in life, Burnham became a coach with US Sailing. He focused primarily on coaching young sailors for both national and international competition. He is a nominee for induction into the National Sailing Hall of Fame’s 2021 class.

Burnham is survived by his wife Elizabeth, son Eddie and daughter Kyla and his brother and father.

Todd Kortemeier

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.