Olympic gold medalist sailor Tom Burton award Medal of the Order of Australia

Golden year: Tom Burton from Baulkham Hills won a gold medal in the men's laser class at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Picture: Getty Images/Clive Mason

Golden year: Tom Burton from Baulkham Hills won a gold medal in the men's laser class at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Picture: Getty Images/Clive Mason

Champion sailor Tom Burton has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his gold medal-winning performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Burton, 26, who spent much of his young life in Baulkham Hills, said 2016 was definitely a year to remember.

“I’ve been to a few awards nights since I’ve being back and a lot have focused on the Olympics,” he said.

“Being nominated and being able to win those awards was a pretty big honour but the OAM is something you definitely don’t think about.

“Being able to keep that forever is something that’s very special.”

Having relocated to Lake Macquarie following the Olympics, there is little surprise the champion sailor will spend Australia Day on the waters of the central coast with a friend.

Burton admitted he was “looking forward to getting a bit more fun sailing in”. 

Olympic success was a driving force for Burton in the lead-up to Rio.

But after claiming gold, he has set a range of new goals.

Although one goal is returning to the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, Burton says he never gets too far ahead of himself.

“I always try to stay pretty grounded but during the end of the Olympics, it was pretty hard to do that,” he said.

“I set a goal many years ago and I achieved it.

“So now I’ll set another one and, like any other Australian, I’ll keep battling away to try and achieve the next one.”