By Mike Rowbottom at ExCel London

Luke Patience_and_Stuart_Bithell_09-01-121January 9 - Luke Patience (pictured left) and Stuart Bithell (right), two of the rising young stars in British sailing, are the newest members of Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games, it was announced today by the British Olympic Association (BOA).

The pair, who won the world silver medal last year in the men's 470 class, have been nominated to Team GB by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the national governing body for the sport of sailing.

They have been selected ahead of double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers, sailing with Chris Grube, and double world champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis.

The addition of Patience and Bithell brings to 21 the number of athletes who have officially been selected for Team GB, as the announcement was made on the 200-day countdown to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The duo have been competing together since 2009 and, in their relatively brief time together, have enjoyed a steady rise in the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) world rankings.

They finished the 2010 season ranked fourth in the world and clinched their place on Team GB by winning silver at the 2011 ISAF World Championships last month in Perth, Australia.

They made their debut in the ISAF World Championships in 2009 after having competed together for just two weeks, and brought home a silver medal.

Patience was born in Helensburgh, Scotland, and now lives in Portland.

He began sailing in an Optimist at the age of seven and started racing two years later at his local sailing club, Royal Northern and Clyde Yacht Club.

He will celebrate his 26th birthday on August 4, just two days before the men's 470 medal race and victory ceremony on August 6.

Bithell was born in Rochdale, Englandm and now lives in Portland.

He was introduced to sailing as a seven-year-old at Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club in Rochdale in a Firefly.

Bithell began racing competitively at the age of 12 and became a member of the Skandia Team GBR Development Squad at the age of 18.

He will celebrate his 26th birthday on August 28, 16 days after the 2012 Olympic Games conclude.

Luke Patience_and_Stuart_Bithell_09-01-1211
"Luke and Stuart have come a long way since they started sailing together back in 2009, and are a classic example of how getting the right complement of skillsets for helm and crew in the boat can really launch sailors' careers," said Team GB sailing team leader Stephen Park.

"Campaigning to represent Team GB at the Games in this class is probably the hardest challenge – with double Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers, sailing with Chris Grube, and double World Champions Nic Asher and Elliot Willis to contend with it's been a tough battle to gain the British selection spot.

"A number of podium positions throughout 2011, including silver at both the European and World Championships, show that Luke and Stuart are on track for the podium in 2012 and I'm confident they'll be promising sailors in the programme for years to come."

Patience said: "Even though we weren't sailing together at the time, Stuart and I by complete coincidence were in the same room when London was announced as the hosts of the 2012 Olympic Games.

"I feel so privileged and am so excited to have been selected.

"I can't wait to be a part of a home Games in one of the greatest cities on earth.

"We're absolutely not just going for the t-shirt though.

"It's been hard work getting to this point but we're by no means letting our hair down now.

"In our campaign we are conscious to celebrate all the small successes along the way, so we're definitely enjoying this moment, but we have just one goal and that's to win a gold medal this summer in London so selection is by no means the end of the job."

Bithell added: "Although we never doubted ourselves, it's still a big relief to have been selected and to know that we'll be there on the startline at our first Olympic Games and doing our best to bring home gold.

"As our coach put it when we learned of our selection 'we've climbed one peak, now we need to climb another, and the sunset's a whole lot nicer from the next one'.

"It's a weight off our shoulders, but there's a lot of hard work still ahead of us.

"We're representing Queen and country, so we will be putting our programme in place to give us the best chance of becoming gold medallists in August.

"We're part of the most successful sailing team in the world, and at our first Games, to have the support of world's best sailors and staff guiding us through can only be a good thing."

Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt commented: "Despite having competed together for a relatively short period of time, Luke and Stuart have quickly risen to the top of their sport.

"They have done so by blending their remarkable talent with an unwavering work ethic and a commitment to excellence that is the hallmark of British sailing, and we are proud to welcome them to Team GB."

The list of 13 sailors now selected for London 2012 Is:

Ben Ainslie – finn

Paul Goodison – laser

Bryony Shaw - RSX women

Nick Dempsey – RSX men

Lucy Macgregor, Kate Macgregor, Annie Lush – Elliott 6m, women's match racing

Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson – star

Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark – 470 women

Luke Patience, Stuart Bithell – 470 men

Selection trials are ongoing in the 49er and the laser radial.

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September 2011: Ainslie leads first Team GB selections for London 2012