CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston senior sailor Juan Maegli (pronounced MAG-lee) will soon compete on the world's grandest sporting stage as he gets set for his second Summer Olympic Games appearance this weekend in London, England.
Originally from Guatemala City, Guatemala, Maegli will be one of two current CofC student-athletes to participate in the upcoming Games next to senior point guard Andrew Lawrence, who will compete in basketball for Great Britain.
Maegli, who earned ICSA All-American honors and won the ICSA/Laser Performance Men's Singlehanded Championship in 2010 as a sophomore, has represented his home country in the sport of sailing since he was eight years old. His father, Juan Estuardo Maegli, participated in the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984.
In preparation for the XXX Olympiad, Maegli spent the last four months in Tenerife, Spain, sailing and improving his technique as well as training alongside laser class world champion and current No. 1 in the world, Tom Slingsby of Australia, on Lake Garga, located near northern Italy, between the provinces of Brescia, Trento and Verona.
His first great achievement in international competition was winning the bronze medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in the form of the Hobie 16 catamaran class, and later the gold medal at the 2007 Pan-Am Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Prior to his enrollment at CofC as a freshman in 2008, he competed in his first Olympics in Beijing, China, where he placed 33rd in the laser class - a move from the Hobie which is not an Olympic event.
"Since Rio, I decided to move to the laser, to follow my dream of winning an Olympic medal," said Maegli in an article written by Prensa Libure and translated from Spanish to English. "In London, that is the challenge, and if I don't, I will seek it again in 2016."
Maegli earned his qualification for this summer's Olympic Games with a top 40 finish at the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia, in December of 2011. He would later place a career-best fourth at the laser sailing world championships this past May in Boltenhagen, Germany.
"It has been a year with good results, but it has been thanks to the hours of training," Maegli said. "In Germany, I finished fourth at the Laser World Championships, which was a good parameter of what might happen in London."
Perhaps the biggest honor of his career will come this Friday as he was nominated out of the 18 total national delegates from his country to serve as the flag bearer during the Parade of Nations at the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony to be held at Olympic Stadium.
Maegli, who celebrated his 24th birthday on July 21 and is currently ranked No. 21 in the world in lasers, will compete in the Men's Laser event at the Olympic venue in Weymouth, England, against the likes of top contenders in Australia's Slingsby, Great Britain's Paul Goodison, Croatia's Tonci Stipanovic, Brazil's Bruno Fontes and New Zealand's Andrew Murdoch.
"I know that winning a medal is possible," said Maegli, whose athletic goal is to be the first Guatemalan athlete to medal in the Olympics.
Race 1 is set for Monday, July 30 at 2 a.m. (ET) - 7 a.m. (Local Time) and Race 2 at 3:15 a.m. (ET) - 8:15 a.m. (Local Time). Races 3-10 will be contested from July 31-Aug. 4 with the medal race scheduled for Monday, Aug. 6 at 4 a.m. (ET) - 9:00 a.m. (Local Time). Check your local NBC and NBC Networks listings for televised events or watch live video on www.NBCOlympics.com.
Despite Maegli's two-year absence from the nationally-recognized CofC sailing program during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons to concentrate and focus on Olympic training, his addition to the lineup this coming fall and spring will be invaluable to a squad which captured the program's first-ever ICSA/APS Team Race National Championship title and the Leonard Fowle Trophy, awarded annually to the best overall college sailing team in the country, this past June.
"Juan is a very talented athlete," CofC Head Coach Ward Cromwell said. "When he came to the College of Charleston, we were excited to have him be a part of our program. It's great to see him getting back out there in the Olympic arena, competing at that level and pursuing his lifetime goals. He will definitely add great value to our team next year and we are wishing him the best in London."
After Olympic competition, the business administration major will re-enroll at CofC in August and have one year of eligibility remaining to compete as a senior for the 2012-13 campaign.
"Thank you to the Olympic Committee of Guatemala for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dream," Maegli said. "And to my sponsors for supporting me since the beginning, my coaches for pushing me hard since I started this journey, and to my family, who have always supported me."
A LOOK AT OLYMPIC SAILING
All of the races will use a fleet racing format (all boats in the same class race one another on the same course) where the winner of each race earns one point, and each subsequent place earns points in an ascending order. The boats contest a series of 10 races and the points are totaled, with the points from the worst finish discarded. From there, the top 10 finishers are placed in a single-medal race, which has the points doubled. Medals are then awarded to the top three boats, based on total points (including the medal race and series races).
WHAT IS LASER CLASS?
The Laser is the smallest class of boat sailed at the Olympics and could end up the most hotly contested. The 14 foot, 130 pound craft is one of the most popular racing dinghies and over 250,000 of the boats had been manufactured as of 2011. As a One-Design class, all of the sailors have the same boat with matching specifications for hardware. The simple setup of hull, single sail, centerboard, and tiller, doesn't allow for much tuning or adjustment of the boat, so the person sailing the boat and their tactics remain the most important key to winning a race. Sailors employ a variety of tactics, and body positioning maneuvers to keep their boats moving at rapid pace. A typical Laser sailor will weigh 185-200 pounds.