London Olympics 2012 - Irish sailors fall short on day 9

by ISA 
Annalise Murphy (IRL) competing today, 06.08.12, in the Medal Race Women’s One Person Dinghy (Laser Radial) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
At 1300 today at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, the ten boats in the Laser Radial class started their final decisive race for Olympic medals. Ireland’s hope for an Olympic sailing medal was cheered on by hundreds of Irish sailing supporters on ‘Murphy Mound’ on the Nothe course who had travelled to Weymouth to witness Ireland’s best Olympic sailing result in 32 years.

Going in to the medal race Annalise was third overall on 34 points along with Evi Van Acker (BEL) in fourth, also on 34 points. The lead was held jointly by 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Liljia Xu (CHN) and the world champion Marit Boumeester (NED) both on 33 points. These were the only contenders for medals because of the number of points accumulated by the other six competitors going in to the double point medal race.

Annalise started the race mid line and rounded the first mark in gold medal position. In steady 12 knot conditions Annalise fought hard but China's Lijia Xu quickly passed her on the downwind leg closely followed by Bouwmeester (NED).

As Ireland held its breath Annalise rounded the second mark in ninth place with Belgium’s Van Acker behind her. Throughout the race Annalise moved from gold to bronze to silver and back to bronze at the final mark until she was caught by Van Acker on the final leg to the finish.

Only 21 seconds separated the first five boats to cross the finish line with China taking the gun followed by Marit Bouwmeester in silver, Van Acker bronze, Alison Young (GBR) in fourth but not a medal contender and Annalise in fifth to finish her Olympic campaign in fourth position overall.

After the race Annalise commented 'Coming fourth was definitely the worst result. I kept losing out downwind because I kept going left downwind and there was less wind. Things just didn't work my way. I'm only 22. I'm going to work so hard and be back for 2016'.

Annalise started sailing at the age of 10 in the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire in an Optimist, later progressing to a Laser 4.7 and then into the Radial class. She has been on the ISA Academy for the last * years and her career highlights before London 2012 were bronze medals at both the 2011 and 2012 Sail for Gold regattas in the Olympic venue in Weymouth. At 22 years of age Annalise is the youngest of her competitors. The average age of a medallist in the Radial class is 28 years.

Commenting on her performance ISA Performance Director James O’Callaghan stated 'We are hugely proud of Annalise and her performance at the Games. Her target for her first Olympics was to make the medal race but she came out fighting with four race wins at the beginning of the week and heart-breaking for the final medal positions to be decided in one race when she fought so hard for the week. However she should be extremely proud of the hard work and commitment that she gave this campaign and acknowledge that she has achieved the best Olympic sailing result in 32 years. Without a doubt she will be back for 2016. She is such a great ambassador for our sport and an inspiration to young Irish sailors particularly the girls'.

On the 49er course, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern had their final day of fleet racing. This was their last opportunity to hold on to their top 10 position before the medal race on Wednesday. The pair were 10th overall heading in to Race 14 but only four points separated them from 13th place. The race got off to a bad start with the boys crossing the start line early; resulting in immediate disqualification.


Luckily only moments later the entire race was abandoned due to the shifting winds. This meant their disqualification was void. The race was rescheduled but unfortunately Seaton and McGovern finished in 16th which saw them drop to 11th overall. Sadly Race 15 had an equally frustrating ending, seeing the boys finish in 16th and 14th overall ultimately ending their dreams of sailing in the medal race.

'Ryan and Matt have worked so hard to get here and they will understandably be disappointed with narrowly missing out on the medal race. But they’ll be able to put everything they learned here in to their 2016 campaign' remarked O’Callaghan.

Ger Owens and Scott Flanigan had their penultimate day of racing in the 470 class. They had a 25th and a 27th which leaves them 27th overall. They will sail two further races tomorrow but due to the points they have accumulated so far they will not be in contention for the medal race on Thursday.

O’Callaghan remarked 'This has been a fantastic experience for Scott. He has come to the Games at the age of 19 and sailed with his coach and former Olympic sailor Ger. They achieved so much even qualifying for the Games as they only began campaigning a year ago once Scott had finished his Leaving Cert'.

The 470 fleet will continue racing tomorrow. Sailing action starts at 12 noon in Weymouth.

ISA website
http://www.sail-world.com/100694