Olympic joy and nerves abound
by Dean Brenner Team Leader US Olympic Sailing Team on 16 Aug 2008
I'm torn between the polar opposite emotions of joy and stress. On one hand, I am jumping-out-of-my-skin happy for Zach Railey who yesterday sailed a brilliant 8th race in the Finn Class and put himself on the brink of an Olympic medal. But on the other hand, Sally Barkow, Debbie Capozzi and Carrie Howe are in for a full-on street brawl in the Yngling Class today.
Zach saw an opportunity yesterday, match-raced the French Finn sailor to the back of the fleet, and put a significant cushion between himself and 4th place in the standings. He still has some work to do today, but the points between him and the boats in 3rd and 4th are not small.
Sally, Debbie and Carrie had a tougher day in the Yngling, and are now essentially in a six-boat race for the bronze medal. Both Finns and Ynglings race today in their 'medal race.' For those of you not familiar with this new concept, it is a made-for-TV convention in the sport of sailing, where the Top 10 boats sail in a final race that counts double. In sailing, your worst score can typically be discarded. But not the medal race. Not only does it count double, but it cannot be discarded. It's big, and entering the Yngling medal race today there are two boats that have distanced themselves on the scoreboard and are guaranteed gold and silver, and six others (including our team) that will scrum for the bronze.
I am in uncharted water here. How do you give in to totally competing emotions at the same time, both of which are related to people you care about? If anyone has an idea, please send me a quick email because it's a puzzle to me. And the Finn and Yngling are the first two events to end. I have 9 more of these before I head home. I should have taken some 'before' photos in July. I am sure I will have visibly aged in the last month.
It is inevitable that some of our athletes will meet their goals here, and others will not. And it is critical that we meet all the athletes in that moment where their emotions are. We want to celebrate with the ones who meet a goal, and we want to support the ones who don't. And often that will need to happen on the same day, some times minutes apart as they come back to the dock in rapid succession.That's tough duty for our staff, and for the friends and family who are here to support them.
Today is another big day. In addition to the Yngling and Finn medal races, the 49ers have three races today. They are way behind schedule after two days of missed races because of light winds, and tomorrow is their medal race. Tim and Chris are 12 points off the podium, and have some work to do. But I have faith in them. 3 races also today for Laser, Radial, Tornado, Star, RS:X and 470 men. 470 women only have two today.
Big day... but then again, they all are. And there are more emotional times ahead, both highs and lows.
Send along your advice. I could use it!
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