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RYA performance director John Derbyshire becomes OBE

John Derbyshire
Derbyshire oversees Britain's Olympic sailing programme

British sailing's Olympic performance director John Derbyshire admitted he was "surprised and flattered" to become an OBE in the New Year Honours List.

The 54-year-old, the Royal Yachting Association's performance director and racing manager, was recognised for his outstanding services to sport.

Britain has topped the medal table for sailing at the last three Olympics.

"It's quite a shock really," he said on hearing of the award. "It's a great reflection on the sport of sailing."

Derbyshire began working with the RYA as a coach in 1984, attending the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games as coach to the single-handed classes.

He was the Olympic manager for sailing from 1996 to 2000, when the British team brought home three gold and two silver medals from the Sydney Games.

Progess report on GB Olympic sailors

From 1994 to 2000, he was coach to Ben Ainslie, guiding the then teenager, now a three-time Olympic champion, to silver in Atlanta in 1996 and gold in Sydney in 2000.

Following the Sydney Games, Derbyshire was appointed as the RYA's performance director/racing manager, where he oversees the running of the Junior, Youth and Olympic Classes Programmes.

In 2004 and 2008, Derbyshire was elected as chairman of the Performance Directors' Forum where he plays a pivotal role in the development of world-class sport across the UK.

He added: "I wouldn't have been able to do what I've done without all the people who put so much time and effort in so I'm flattered to be able to receive this on behalf of them and the sport.

"Without the unwavering support from my wife and family I wouldn't have been able to commit the time I have to the sport so I am very appreciative of that - this is for them too."

RYA chief executive Rod Carr said: "John is one of the unsung heroes of British sailing and thoroughly deserves this public accolade.

"His steady hand has guided the World Class Programme since 2000 and has made sure that our sailors don't rest on their laurels but push for even more success."

The British sailing team, with Stephen Park OBE as manager, won two golds, a silver and two bronzes in Athens in 2004 and four golds, a silver and a bronze in Beijing.

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