Exmouth's Stevie Morrison confident of 2012 success

By Phil TuckettBBC South West Olympics reporter
Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes
Morrison (left) and Rhodes in action at August's Olympic test event in Weymouth

Exmouth sailor Stevie Morrison says nothing has been left to chance in his and 49er partner Ben Rhodes' bid to secure a berth at next summer's 2012 Olympics.

After a disappointing ninth-placed finish at the Beijing Games, the former world champions went back to basics in an attempt to iron out the errors that left them way down the field three years ago.

"We've been quite hard on ourselves in the last few years," Morrison told BBC South West. "We really tried to work on those weaknesses and there's nothing harder really than working on the things you're not very good at.

"It's quite easy to go out and do a day's training at things you know you're good at, because you come in feeling good, but to work on the things you're not so good at is hard mentally."

Prior to appearing at the Beijing Olympics, Morrison and Rhodes were hotly tipped for a place on the podium, having won both the World and European Championships in the preceding two years.

But they failed to take that form into the Games, leading to a period of uncomfortable self-examination.

"It's been a big step back for us to open up those wounds, get in there and try and fix things," said Morrison.

Their results since have been mixed, the odd medal interspersed with lower placings that allow little room for any talk of them as serious contenders when the Olympics arrive in Weymouth & Portland next year.

There was a glimpse of their old form back in August as they finished fourth in the pre-Games test event in Weymouth.

However that result was not enough to convince the GB selectors of their Olympic worth as the 49er's became one of only three classes yet to be named by team bosses.

"It's a bit of shame we weren't selected, but we're the only ones who have been coming up with results in Weymouth," Morrison continued.

"Ben and I have got every confidence that we're the right team, but we've got to keep proving that."

"We're definitely the top performing British boat and I guess we would prefer to be selected now for many reasons, such as putting your programme together and trying to make sure you've got everything you need for next summer."

Decisions on who will represent Great Britain in each of the three remaining Olympic classes - the 49er, men's 470 and Laser Radial - could be left as late as next May, although the forthcoming World Championships in Perth, Australiaexternal-link are likely to play a critical role in helping the selectors make up their minds.

Morrison continued: "Obviously if you can win that event, or come away with a medal from that event, then you'd hope that the selectors may come to you.

"We know where we need to go and we're working very hard to make that happen - we're definitely on the right track - we couldn't be working any harder and the fact that it's a home Games gives us that little edge and a huge incentive."