by Craig Heydon
It was more than a week into the London 2012 Olympic Games and Australia had a single gold medal to its name and was languishing down the medal tally.
Tom Slingsby with his gold medal
While things weren’t going exactly to plan up in London Tom Slingsby was putting in consistent results on the water in Weymouth and closing in on gold in the Laser class.
Heading into the medal race Slingsby was 14 points clear of his closest rival, Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides, and was guaranteed at least a silver medal, and Australia was taking notice.
Weymouth’s contingent of Australian media swelled overnight and back home Australians were glued to their TV screens as Slingsby doubled the country’s gold medal count in one race.
For Slingsby the gold was 12 years in the making, since sitting on the rocks and watching his idols duel during the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
'I think the most memorable moment of London was when I crossed the finish line in the medal race,' said Slingsby. 'Just knowing that what I had set out to achieve all those years ago was finally achieved.
'It doesn’t sound great but there was a lot of relief, just because I had put so much pressure on myself and all that pressure was finally lifted off my shoulders at that moment,' he said.
While he was winning gold half a world away from home Slingsby was joined in Weymouth by family and friends, which he said made the win all that more special.
'It’s a huge honour to stand at the top of the podium and hear your national anthem playing,' he said. 'It’s a couple of minutes that you just stand there and reflect on the journey and it was more amazing having my family and friends there watching as well.'
Slingsby’s win kicked off a strong finish for Australia at London 2012, later that night Anna Meares and Sally Pearson won their golds in London and later in the week Slingsby’s sailing team mates Nathan Outteridge, Iain Jensen, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won gold and Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty won silver.
Slingsby said that he enjoyed seeing his team mates also achieve success at London 2012.
'I’ve obviously grown up with Nath and Goobs and especially with Nath we’ve been through a lot of our highs and lows together,' said Slingsby. 'We both had the low of China in 2008 where we didn’t achieve our goals, then we won world titles at the same time and then to win our gold medals effectively on the same day, that was just awesome.
'I’ve also known Mat and Mal since about 2000, they’re both such great blokes it’s impossible not to be super stoked for them,' he said. 'And the girls were the underdogs and they were very impressive with how focused and determined they were at their first Olympics. It was a great few days.'
Slingsby hasn’t stopped since winning gold and is currently living in San Francisco as he prepares to defend the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA.
While being a part of a large America’s Cup team is about as far removed from an Olympic campaign in a single person boat as possible Slingsby is loving every moment of it.
'During my 10 years of Olympic campaigning I would travel alone, organise things by myself and it would be a pretty close knit group between my training partners and my coach,' said Slingsby. 'The America’s Cup is a huge operation, every day we have meetings about design, performance analysis, and about a million other topics.
'We train each day and work six days a week from six in the morning until seven in the evening but I love every second of it,' he said. 'I’m learning so much and when we finish our campaign in September I’ll be coming out of it a lot better than when I went in. Both the America’s Cup and an Olympic campaign are amazing lifestyles allowing me to do what I love.'
Australian Team website