Santiago Lange is a naval architect who studied at the University of Southampton, England, who is best known as one of the most distinguished sailors in Argentinian history. He has participated in seven Olympic Games, taking the Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite having a lung operation due to cancer a few months prior.
He competed at a record 7th consecutive Olympic Games in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games. Together with his partner Cecilia Carranza Saroli they competed in the Nacra class 17 training for and aiming for the gold once again. Unfortunately, Cecilia was injured and this put pay to a realistic chance of winning, though they did win the final days ‘medal race’, beating all of the medal winners.
Santiago has recently announced that he intends to compete in a remarkable 8th consecutive Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
Prior to be the Olympic Champion in 2016, Santiago had won two bronze medals at the earlier Olympics. In 2014, however, regular illness resulted in him getting medical attention. Tests revealed he had lung cancer and part of his lung was subsequently removed.
But the sailing legend refused to allow his diagnosis and surgery to dictate his life, and, while the surgery was a success, Santiago Lange’s comeback was not easy. He found workouts much more difficult due to a reduced lung capacity. Yet nine months later his perseverance paid off with him winning the gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. According to Lange, this was the highlight of his career at the time.
“Gone were cancer and the uncertain future, death looming, the operating room (September 22, 2015, the day of his 54th birthday), physical laziness. It was a beautiful coincidence between surgery and birth. I wanted to start a new life, turn the page. Very rare about cancer. I was a healthy man. Athlete. I take care of myself. I eat well. I do not drink alcohol. I never smoked. “Why is this happening to me ?!” Then: “Why me?” Then cancer became a challenge, not a disease. I was in a storm in the middle of the sea and I couldn’t get off the boat. A reality that had to be lived.” – Santiago Lange
Amongst his various sporting achievements, Santiago Lange counts a third place at the 2004 Olympics held in Greece, a second at the 2006 Tornado World Championships, a third place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, second place at the 2014 ISAF World Sailing Championships, a first at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a first at the 2017 Nacra 17 World Championship, a first at the 2018 52 Super Series, and a first at the same event in 2019. He has also competed in the 2013 Americas Cup and was voted World Sailor of the Year in 2016.
Yet his prowess on the water seems to run in his family. His father, a navy sailor who traveled with the Argentinian yachting team to the 1952 Olympic games, made sure to encourage his son’s love of the water resulting in Santiago’s winning the Argentino de Optimist in 1976. Furthermore, both his sons have inherited his talent for sailing and have become Olympic sailors in their own right.
As a conference speaker, Santiago Lange talks about achieving success no matter what life throws your way. Resilience when faced with pressure, your mindset, and motivation, are all important aspects in achieving success. He lives in Barcelona, Spain and presents in Spanish and English.
Suggested Questions For Santiago For Virtual Q&A:
‘How do you stay focussed when the pandemic has caused so much disruption especially for you going for a 7th consecutive Games knowing that they might have cancelled the Toyko Olympic Games?’
(Managing Complex Situations)
– ‘Can you tell us about a time during your career when things haven’t gone to plan and you’ve had to dig deep, perhaps even to adjust the plan to get over a very challenging obstacle. that you have faced?’
– ‘Tell us about the importance you place on teamwork and how it has helped you to achieve your successes throughout your illustrious career?’
"Hi Santiago, Thank you so much for your presentation and time at the event today. It was an inspiring session and really good to hear your story. There was great feedback from the audience and many questions. Wish we had more time. I wish you all the best and thanks again for taking part in our event." (by virtual delivery, Oct 6th 2021)
"I can summarize that everyone was enthusiastic for Santi speech! He was very effective and empathetic. Also, the interaction with the interviewer worked."