Sailing: Ironman tilt offers fresh perspective for Olympic hopeful Tom Saunders

Auckland's Oceanbridge Sailing Regatta is where future Olympians are found and for leading NZ sailor Tom Saunders, it's another chance to press his claims for selection for Paris 2024.

Saunder, 29, is still on the water, thanks to a change of sporting scenery. He has spent nearly a lifetime training for sailing's pinnacle event, but he almost abandoned that dream, after missing out on selection for the Tokyo Games.

"It's incredibly tough," Saunders told Newshub. "You work pretty hard for four years.

"I view my life at the moment in four year blocks, and to put everything into it and come up short was pretty hard to take."

As it turned out, Saunders found some relief in the unlikeliest of places - endurance multisport.

"Ironman somehow popped up," he recalled. "I'd always wanted to do one."

That gruelling experience at Taupō earlier this month - when he finished with a very respectable sub-10 hour time - gave Saunders some much-needed perspective.

"To see all the age group athletes putting in a lot of work for the passion and love for sport switched to how I approached this campaign," he admitted. "It is because I love it and you can't forget that."

That tack has seen him become just the second Kiwi to claim a Laser world title.  

With Paris fast approaching, Saunders hopes for a repeat performance in this year's edition.

"That's still a big focus of mine," he confessed

With just one spot up for grabs, every second on the water counts.

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