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Argentina’s sailing hero hails homegrown ‘rivals’

13 Oct 2018
Olympic News, Buenos Aires 2018, YOG, Argentina, Sailing
Rio 2016 champion Santiago Lange (ARG) says Dante Cittadini and Teresa Romairone - the toast of Buenos Aires after their gold medal in sailing’s Nacra 15 class - will soon join him on the Olympic Games stage.

Argentina’s Dante Cittadini and Teresa Romairone received a prize even greater than a Youth Olympic Games gold after winning the mixed two-person multihull Nacra 15 sailing class on Saturday, when the nation’s greatest sailor admitted he sees them as genuine rivals. “For sure they are headed towards the Olympics - they have all the components,” said Santiago Lange, the six-time Olympian who won Rio 2016 gold in the Nacra 17 class with Cecilia Carranza Saroli. “If they get there and they beat us it would be a big honour and a big pleasure to lose against them.” 

To hear Lange’s verdict just minutes after returning to shore was almost more than Romairone could bear. “It’s incredible that he would say that,” the 18-year-old said. “Santi and Ceci have helped us so much. I want to know as much as them. They are like gods.”

Romairone and Cittadini sent their armada of supporters wild on the Rio de la Plata as the duo held their nerve to claim the top-nine finish they needed in the 13th and final race of the event. “I was a bit scared in the first downwind, we started very conservatively,” said Romairone. However, upwind the Argentines showed their strength and skill as they charged through the field to finish sixth, claiming gold ahead of France’s Titouan Petard and Kenza Coutard and Netherlands pair Laila van der Meer and Bjarne Bouwer.

An armada of fans escort Dante Cittadini and Teresa Romairone (ARG) after their victory off the Club Nautico San Isidro (Gabriel Heusi for OIS/IOC)

“After so much effort, it was like we jumped in and the river hugged us,” Romairone said. “Then we started hearing all the cheers from the river. And Santi and all the important people started hugging us.”

Lange has no doubt this should be the first of many Olympic Games celebrations. The 57-year-old, who had part of his lung removed during cancer treatment just months before winning gold at Rio 2016, revealed that he is trying to look after himself a little better than he used to, so he can take on the youngsters. 

“I am learning,” he said. “I changed my physical trainer so I take a little bit more care of my body, but I am not good at it yet. I am a little bit of a bad student. I like to enjoy life.”

One set of competitors who certainly know how to enjoy life are the kiteboarders, but the weather was against them on Saturday afternoon. A shifting wind meant that just one of the two men’s and women’s semifinals could be completed. 

Alina Kornelli (GER) and Deury Corniel, of the Dominican Republic, further stamped their authority on the women’s and men’s events respectively. The boarders, both of whom started the day top of the rankings, won their first semifinals. 

The top eight men and women will go again on Sunday. Racing starts at 10am, with a favourable seven knots of wind and gusts of up to 14 knots forecast. 

Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018

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