Murphy returns to fulfil Olympic Games dream

By Stephen Leonard

ANNALISE Murphy produced a brilliantly composed performance in Tuesday’s Women’s Laser Radial Medal race on the Pão de Açúcar course, Copacabana to capture silver in the Rio Olympic Games.

The 26-year-old Rathfarnham competitor found herself third heading into the decisive contest in which her fifth place finish was good enough to see her overtake Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom who came home eighth with Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester securing gold.

Annalise Murphy Rio 18 August 2016

Murphy’s feat served to banish the pain of barely missing out on a medal in London 2012 when she finished up fourth.

“It’s amazing. This time four years ago I had just finished fourth and it was the hardest day of my life,” Murphy told RTÉ after the race.

“But I said I was going to come back and try and get a medal, so to actually go and do it is just incredible. I’m really happy.
“That last race I just put everything together really well and I’m over the moon.

“I didn’t think I was going to be in this position even a few months ago. I was sailing really badly, so to be able to come and do it is just incredible,” she said.

It was a statement of intent right from the off by the Dubliner on Tuesday as she held second position after the opening two marks and was even up into the gold medal position by the third when she moved five places ahead of Bouwmeester.

But falling back slightly down the field, she still managed to remain composed and out of danger in order to guarantee herself second position.

“I knew that I just had to treat it like every other race I’ve done this week,” explained Murphy.

“I knew that if I was scared I was going to end up losing out, so I just went and attacked the race and it worked out well for me.

“I knew atthe last top marker. After that I just thought it was going to be either gold or silver and I kind of relaxed at that stage”.

Greeted by her ecstatic family on shore, including her mother Cathy McAleavey, father Con, sister Claudine and brother Finn, Murphy savoured the experience and relief of finally reaching the Olympic podium.

“My whole family are here, they’re incredible and everyone back home in Ireland, all my friends and family that have supported me since I’ve been doing this, it’s just amazing.

“It’s a dream come true. You dream about these kind of moments, but you never actually think they’re going to happen to you, so I’m just over the moon.

Annalise Murphy Rio 18 August 2016 2

“The last couple of years I haven’t been racing so well and I didn’t think it was going to happen, but the last couple of months I kind of got the belief back a little bit and to actually get it is just amazing.

“A gold medal would have been amazing and I know I was in that position for parts of the race, but I’m really happy with my silver,” she said.

“It’s amazing for Irish sailing. We haven’t won since the Moscow Olympics, so hopefully I can inspire a whole new generation,” she said.

Back home, those sentiments were echoed by Martin McCarthy, Honorary Secretary of Murphy’s home club, the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

“This will be an incredible boost to the sport in this country,” he told The Echo.

“It’s been 36 years since we last had a medal in sailing and the Laser Radial is the most popular boat. There’s half a million of them in the world and Annalise is top of that pile.

“It’s an incredible achievement to get to the Olympic Games, to get to a medal race and to win a medal.

“I would have been happy with a bronze, because in sailing so many things can go wrong.

“But Annalise is very composed, she had a plan and she executed that plan. It wasn’t easy because the winds were still light for that race, but she has learnt to deal with conditions like that.

“She’s worked so hard to get to where she is and she’s given everything over the past four years, so this was an important race for her.

“There was a big surge in the sport even since London 2012. You can see it in Dublin Bay and Blessington Lakes.
“The sport teaches so many skills and you learn to compete as a team.

“This has been such a team effort in helping Annalise get to that silver medal and the Irish Sailing Association have been very good. It’s just a great day for the sport in Ireland” he concluded.

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