Men's 470 world champions Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan are among six sailors in the Australian team ©Getty Images

Mathew Belcher will bid to defend his men’s 470 class Olympic title after he was one of six sailors named in the Australian team for Rio 2016.

The 33-year-old claimed gold with his former crewmate Malcolm Page at London 2012, continuing their successful partnership in which they also earned three consecutive world titles.

Following Page’s retirement from the class, Will Ryan stepped up to the challenge of replacing the two-time Olympic champion by helping Belcher to a further three world crowns, while they also claimed this year’s International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Cup Final title.

As a result of their success, the pair were awarded the Yachting Australia Male Sailor of the Year award in November and they will head to Rio 2016 as the overwhelming favourites.

“Anytime you can represent your country is special, ever since I was a kid, going to the Olympics was all I wanted and to go to my second Games is just amazing,” Belcher said.

“A lot of people don’t realise how much Will was involved in the London campaign.

“I’ve seen him grow and to share that excitement and put on the uniform together will be special.

“Our preparation is getting the best out of our performance and hopefully that’s enough to win.”

Rio Test Event winners Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse are targeting the first Nacra 17 Olympic gold
Rio Test Event winners Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse are targeting the first Nacra 17 Olympic gold ©Getty Images

The Australian sailing team secured three golds and one silver medal at London 2012 and are hopeful of similar success in Brazil with defending 49er class champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen also named in the team.

A dominant performance in 2012 saw them claim Olympic gold with a race to spare but they are expected to face a tougher challenge to defend their title, with the pair being beaten by New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke to this year’s world title in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Cousins Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse have also been named in the Australian team, while a further 12 sailors are expected to be named in May.

The duo are targeting the first Nacra 17 class gold medal, an event making its Olympic debut, after winning the Rio Test Event earlier this year.

They also claimed silver at the World Championships and their performances resulted in Darmanin being awarded the Yachting Australia Female Sailor of the Year prize.

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November 2015:
 Belcher and Ryan claim Yachting Australia Male Sailor of the Year prize
November 2015: Australian double act Belcher and Ryan retain men's 470 title as ISAF World Cup Final comes to a close
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October 2015: Belcher and Ryan among reigning champions seeking to defend titles at ISAF World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi