London Olympics 2012 Laser Radial – in the mixed zone
by Rob Kothe and Jeraldine Murphy on 8 Aug 2012
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, there was an impressive display from the Laser Radial sailor of the 2012 season, China’s Lijia Xu, who snagged the Gold Medal by winning the medal race.
Lijia Xu (CHN) who won the Gold Medal in Laser Radial onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist had a great season with three World Cup wins and now Olympic Gold. It’s been widely acknowledged that the big improvement in Xu’s performance has been the contribution of her British coach, who inexplicably was sacked by the Chinese just before the Games, but continued to support the Chinese sailor.
After the medal race, Xu now the 2012 Gold Medallist acknowledged that.
‘To start with, I just want to give a really huge thanks to Jon Emmett, (the Weymouth based British coach) who over the last year taught me so much about real sailing at a level which I could not have reached just with a Chinese coach and the Chinese support team.
‘Before the medal race, he analysed the sea breeze again with me. We looked at the cloud formations and how the wind would go throughout the afternoon here in Weymouth, said Xu.
‘It made a big difference as the Nothe Course is particularly shifty so you have to understand the wind pattern and follow the shifts,' Xu continued.
‘I feel very proud for myself and also very proud of my nation.’
‘This makes China’s second sailing gold medal, we had a windsurfing gold medal in Qingdao.’
‘I will let more Chinese people know about this sport and get them involved in feeling the joy of steering a boat on the sea.’
‘I am happy too for my huge support team in China.’
Belgian sailor Evi Van Acker won bronze, the first sailing medal for Belgium in 16 years.
In the mixed zone she commented, ‘So far Belgium has won three medals in this Olympics. We have won one in Judo, one in shooting and me. We have plenty of good athletes to come so I hope more will follow.
The last Olympic sailing medal for Belgium was in 1996, some 16 years ago. It has been a while and I am really happy to be the latest.’
‘I believe everyone on the team deserves credit. My coach, my mental team, my physical team, the federation, the government. Everybody has been working together in this and it has been a great cooperation between everyone.
Will Van Acker be sailing in Rio in 2016? Rio de Janeiro, it sounds better than Weymouth I have to say, it will be completely different and that is what makes it fun. I don't know about Rio yet, I am finishing my studies first and then I’ll decide what I will do.
One of the pre-event favourites US sailor Laser Radial sailor Paige Railey, disappointed with her eighth place, confessed the reasons why.
‘Ahead of the medal race, the main objective for me was to improve my downwind and my balance because they weren't that great during the Olympic series. I completed my goals and I feel happy about that. Of course I am disappointed with my overall result but I can’t do anything about it now.
‘Overall it’s pretty obvious what didn't go my way. I did not sail well on the harbour course and the Nothe Course, when we had many of our races there and that was the downfall for me.
‘It was the downwind that killed me honestly. My downwind speed was not that good. I was rounding windward marks ok but I could not get the boat to go fast downwind.
‘We were trying to work on it a little bit. We didn't think it was necessarily that big a problem until we did the racing. I just tried to take one race at a time and when it started going wrong I just didn't focus on the negatives. I had to keep focussing on what I could do at the moment.’