Saanich athletes set sail for 2016 Paralympics

John McRoberts and Jackie Gay will next compete at November's world sailing championships in Melbourne

The countdown is on. Saanich couple Jackie Gay and John McRoberts are preparing to compete at the 2016 Paralympic Games

It’s difficult enough to reach the top level of any sport, but what about doing so as a team – with your spouse?

That’s what Saanich couple John McRoberts and Jackie Gay are doing on the road to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, taking their SKUD 18 racing boat south to the world’s premier sailing competition.

“We met sailing against each other, and we always knew that we’d make a good team,” said Gay. “Obviously, you’ve got to be careful about this kind of thing – you don’t want to take too many big risks in a marriage.”

“It’s funny to see the faces of people – you can see that they’re questioning whether or not they could sail with their partner, and they instantly think we’re crazy,” added McRoberts with a laugh.

“I know we’re rare, but we thrive on being rare.”

While McRoberts has competed at the previous two Paralympic Games – earning silver in Beijing and placing fourth in London with Victoria athlete Stacie Louttit – the 2016 Paralympics will be a first for Gay, and a first for the couple as a team.

“This is really my best chance with Jackie with just how things are aligning,” said McRoberts outside the Royal Victoria Yacht Club where they train. “The fact that we are married, we can train at the same time – that’s a huge thing.”

The duo placed fourth at last year’s world championships, qualifying for the Paralympic Games, and more recently returned from Europe where they came second at Garda Olympic Week in Italy.

Now they’re gearing up to train in Rio next month before heading to Melbourne in late November for this year’s world championships. With Rio on the horizon, McRoberts and Gay aren’t letting it sneak up on them.

“Next year, we’ll be back in Europe for the spring, May and June events, and they’ll be our last big regattas before the Games,” said Gay. “Really, we’re starting to count down now.”

To afford the cost of competing, the couple is currently raising money through Pursu.it, a crowdfunding platform for amateur athletes. To give to their campaign or for more information about McRoberts and Gay, visit pursu.it/pursuit/campaign/136.

 

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

 

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