by Craig Heydon
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty were Australia’s youngest team at the London 2012 Olympic Games but showed maturity beyond their years throughout the longest event in Weymouth.
Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty on the podium
The Women’s Match Racing competition was certainly a marathon at London 2012, being the first to start and the last to finish but the Australian trio took everything in their stride on the way to Olympic silver.
Price, Curtis and Whitty went through the round robin with a perfect 11 wins from 11 starts before defeating the Netherlands in the quarter-final and Finland in the semi-final, setting up a gold medal match against Spain.
In a hard fought final which had everything, including a sailor overboard, the Spanish eventually came out on top three wins to two, claiming the first, and last, Women’s Match Racing gold medal.
The Australians had a number of close battles on their way to the final, with their win against Finland coming down to the final metre.
'There was a very special moment when our team beat the Finnish team in the semi-final,' said Curtis. 'The racing was completed in extremely light conditions and in the deciding race we started behind and fought for our lives the whole race, crossing the finish line ahead by the smallest of margin.
'I’m so proud of the way our team was able to come back in a race like that and fight to the death on the finish line, it shows real mental toughness,' she said.
For Price, who celebrated her 20th birthday during the Games, the standout moment of London 2012 was the team receiving their silver medals on the final day of competition in Weymouth.
'The most memorable moment has to be when we got to stand on the podium together,' said Price. 'It was unlike any emotion I’ve ever felt! I definitely had mixed emotions after the Olympics. There was a sense of relief that what we had done over the previous four years was worth it, of course we were so happy with our performance, but there was also a sadness that the match racing campaign was over so quickly.'
Whitty shared Price’s sentiments that there was a sense of relief at the end of their campaign.
'A lot of hard work and hours went into our success at the Games,' said Whitty. 'All of your time, energy and capacity goes into the campaign so I think everyone enjoys a break once it’s completed.'
While Price, Curtis and Whitty were continuing through their long schedule their team mates won three gold medals, with the Women’s Match Racers taking some inspiration from their performances.
'Malcom, Mat, Nathan, Goobs and Tom are some of the most incredible, hard working and talented human beings I have met,' said Curtis. 'These medals are countless years in the making and couldn't go to more deserving people. I feel so lucky to call these guys my team mates and was incredibly proud of them when they won gold.'
Price said that they took a lot from seeing the three crews achieve their goals in London.
'Being part of the Australian Sailing Team and having the boys win medals before us was so inspiring,' said Price. 'We stayed in the village together and really drew from their emotions and experiences, which gave us even more determination to get on with the job.'
A year on and the three silver medallists are campaigning for Rio 2016, but all separately. Whitty is in the new mixed multihull Nacra 17, Price is skippering a 49erFX and Curtis is trying her hand at both this year.
'The Nacra 17 is a great class of boat to sail,' said Whitty, 'It's fast, exciting and there are plenty of new skills to learn. Just completing the World Championships gave us a good insight into what is evolving in the class.'
Price is currently preparing for the 49erFX World Championship that will be held in France next month.
'I'm now campaigning in the new 49erFX and it's completely different,' said Price. 'The boat is so exciting and fun to sail and having so many more boats around is just another layer of decision making that I have to get used to again. It's a really different leadership role than in the previous campaign but I'm loving it so far!'
Curtis has had a very busy 2013, juggling events in Europe in both the Nacra 17 and the 49erFX.
'This year couldn't be more different to my last four years,' she said. 'Transitioning between such different classes has been a very humbling experience. I’m learning so much in such a short space of time and enjoying every second.
'Also, going from a very structured squad format in match racing to managing my own campaign has been a steep learning curve,' said Curtis. 'I’m really enjoying my first year and am excited to settle down in one class next year.'
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