Financial difficulties could block sailor Mat Belcher’s chance to create Olympic history

DUAL Olympic medallist Mat Belcher says his decision about whether to chase sailing history at Tokyo 2020 will come down to financial justification rather than personal motivation.

Belcher, along with partner Will Ryan, won silver in the 470 class at the Rio Olympics in August, four years after he paired with Malcolm Page to win gold in London.

The 34-year-old could become the first Australian sailor to win three Olympic medals in Tokyo.

But the father of two, who said he has spent way more money on sailing than he has made along the way, said he has to consider the painful reality that he may not be able to financially justify another crack at glory.

Belcher has earned no salary for the past six months and straight after getting back from Rio he returned to university.

Mat Belcher receives a memento from Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate. Picture: Regi Varghese

He and Ryan, 27, will make a decision on their future early next year.

First they will compete at this week’s Sailing World Cup Final at St Kilda Beach, which could well be their last event together.

“The unfortunate thing is that it really does come down to support,” Belcher said.

“There’s no question about motivation, it’s really just about trying to generate that sponsorship.

“Sailing doesn’t have the profile that some of the other sports do. We were very successful as a team, but it’s a very difficult and expensive sport.

“We’re going back to our old supporters and sponsors - and new ones - to say ‘hey, can you give us that opportunity to do something extraordinary’.

“We’ll get through this event and really assess.”

Belcher, who also won six-successive 470 world titles from 2010-15, said he and Ryan were “really proud” to win silver in Rio and had no regrets, but admitted to being a “little disappointed” that medal wasn’t gold.


The pair will join Australia’s Laser gold medallist from Rio, Tom Burton, and Nacra 17 silver winners Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse in action at St Kilda starting today, where about $200,000 in prizemoney is on offer for the 80-odd boats in Olympic classes.

“The competition is high level,” Belcher said.

“Not as high as the Olympics obviously, but those that are here does show the event’s calibre.”