Who is Australian Sailor Matt Wearn? Is he Qualified for the Paris Olympics?

Matt Wearn is a well-known Australian sailor, he began sailing at the age of five and is currently qualified for the Pairs Olympics 2024.

Matt Wearn Qualified for the Paris Olympics 2024

The Australian Olympic sailing team for the 2024 Paris Games has been announced. Seasoned sailor Matt Wearn from Western Australia will be returning to defend his Olympic gold medal won in Tokyo 2020. Alongside him will be newcomer Grae Morris, making his Olympic debut.

Wearn enters Paris as both the current Olympic and World Champion in the ILCA-7 class. He secured the world title in January 2024 at the World Championships held in Adelaide. Morris proved his top-tier skills by finishing a 4th at the iQFOiL World Championships in Lanzarote in February.

After regaining full fitness over the past year and a half, the 28-year-old Wearn has been unstoppable. He won the Paris Olympic test event, along with the 2023 and 2024 ILCA-7 World Championships.

In Paris, Wearn aims to continue Australia’s powerful legacy in the ILCA-7 class, previously known as Laser. Australian sailors have won gold at the last three Olympics – Wearn in Tokyo 2020, Tom Burton in Rio 2016, and Tom Slingsby in London 2012.

Wearn feels honored to already be part of this sailing heritage and is keen to add another Olympic gold.

“Having the chance to do it again is very special. Only a small number of sailors have attended multiple Games and succeeded, so I really hope I can further build on that legacy in Paris.”

He said

The Olympic sailing events will take place from July 28 to August 8, 2024, at the Marseille Marina.

Matt Wearn’s Parents and Siblings

Matt Wearn was born on September 30, 1995, in Perth, Western Australia. His parents are Karen Wearn (mother) and Brad Wearn (father), who come from a sailing background. Matt is the youngest of three kids, with an older brother Jeremy, and an older sister. His family shared that Matt had to miss his sister’s wedding to take part in the Tokyo Olympics.

Matt Wearn Parents
Image: Matt Wearn’s parents Brad and Karen sent their son a special message on his 2021 Match (Source: Australian Sailing Team Facebook)

Matt attended Woodvale Secondary College from 2008 to 2012. Right after finishing high school, he made it into Australia’s national senior sailing team.

Matt Wearn is married to a Belgian sailor Emma Plasschaert

Through competing in sailing events, Matt Wearn met his girlfriend Emma Plasschaert from Belgium. He takes great pride that Emma became the Laser Radial World Champion in Denmark. Matt first shared a picture with Emma on social media in 2015 during his first flight to Belgium.

On February 19, 2023, Matt married Belgian sailor Emma Plasschaert. The couple recently celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary. Emma was born on November 1, 1993, in Ostend, Belgium. She is a two-time Laser Radial World Champion, having won the titles in 2018 and 2021. Emma also finished 4th in the Laser Radial class at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Matt Wearn and Emma Plasschaert Wedding
Image: Matt Wearn and Emma Plasschaert Wedding (Source: Matt’s Instagram)

Emma Plasschaert came from Ostend, the largest coastal city in Belgium. She began her sailing career in the small Optimist class as a young girl. After five years, she moved to the Europe class. In 2010, Emma switched to the Laser Radial class and joined the team of Evi Van Acker, who would go on to win bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. Plasschaert secured her first top-ten finishes at the World Championships in 2013 and 2014.

Matt Wearn’s Early Starts of Sailing

Matt Wearn’s love for sailing started at the very young age of 5. When his older sister Kate began sailing, Matt would spend a lot of time at the yacht club. He constantly pestered his parents to let him take sailing lessons during the holidays.

As a teenager between ages 13 and 14, Wearn also played Australian Rules football. He made it to the grand final of his age group. However, football was not his true calling. At 15 years old, Matt decided to fully focus on sailing.

Matt was inspired by Beijing Olympics gold medalists Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson. The two champions visited Matt’s local sailing club in Perth to showcase their 470 class medals, motivating the young sailors.

For over a decade, Matt Wearn has represented Australia in the Ilca 7 class, ever since making his mark as an elite teenage sailor.

His first international representation for Australia came at the 2005 Singapore Optimist Nationals.

In 2010, at just 14 years old, Wearn competed in his first major event – the Laser Radial Youth World Championships, securing a 14th-place finish. Within two years, he was on the podium at the senior Laser Radial World Championships in Brisbane, a performance he considers his career turning point after leaving school.

2011 saw Wearn make his debut at the World Championships level.

When he was just 16, he took part in his first major European competition in the single-handed 17-foot dinghy class. The next year at 17, he sailed at the 2012 World Senior Championships in his home city of Perth.

Matt Wearn Further Sailing career after joining the Australian Sailing Team in 2014

Wearn earned a Top 10 finish at the 2013 Worlds in Oman. In 2014, he joined the Australian Sailing Team.

Despite missing out on the Australian squad in 2015 and narrowly failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where Tom Burton went on to win gold, Wearn bounced back quickly, using those setbacks as motivation.

He won silver medals at the Laser World Championships for three consecutive years from 2018 to 2020.

After helping Burton prepare for his Rio gold (a “bittersweet” experience), Wearn immediately set his sights on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Right after the Rio closing ceremony, he traveled to Japan to study the sailing venue and course, to make Tokyo qualification a certainty.

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Wearn achieved that goal, qualifying for and winning the laser gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics held in 2021.

His success earned him the Medal of the Order of Australia on Australia Day 2022.

Early 2022 brought health challenges as Wearn suffered bouts of gastro, a non-Covid virus while touring Europe, Covid-19 itself, and an inner ear infection. Despite being physically compromised, he persevered to chase his first world title at the 2022 Worlds in Mexico, having finished runner-up three times before.

In 2023, Wearn was named Male Able-Athlete of the Year at the AIS Sport Performance Awards. He is now preparing to win consecutive Olympic laser golds at the 2024 Paris Games, while also seeking to add the World Championship gold to his collection.