Going into the Medal Race today Annalise Murphy carried the hopes of the nation with her with a huge outpouring of goodwill. It seemed there was nothing else being talked about anywhere but Annalise’s final race today. In supermarkets, hairdressers, restaurants, etc. the talk was all about “Annalise” and her performance of the week. In one week she has done more for the previously non existent (practically) knowledge or interest in the sport in this country except for a small minority of followers.
As outlined in yesterday’s piece there were four equal contenders and with only three medals available there had to be one disappointment and, unfortunately, it fell to Annalise’s lot to suffer this. Her final finish place was fifth with an overall result of four with the medals going to China, Holland and Belgium in that order and in fact only twenty one seconds separated the first five finishing boats. However, Annalise can be very proud of the fact that she has produced the best sailing result Ireland has ever received in the last thirty two years.
Some years ago a decision was taken by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to introduce a Medal Race for the top ten finishers in each series of races. This race was to be sailed in an area where it would be more closely visible to spectators on shore and would make good television viewing to popularise the sport of sailing.
In a personal view your scribe never agreed with this as I always felt the series was sailed and won on a prescribed course with a prescribed number of races with a discard, and this was fair to all. The medal races are moved in to a course with shorter legs and a much shorter time span plus generally less favourable wind conditions. This race counts for double points that are added to the series score and the boat with the least points wins. This makes a completely different competition on the day with less opportunities for the competitors to make the best use of opportunities that they could do on the fleet racing courses. It was interesting to hear Maurice (Prof) O’Connell (and didn’t he do a great commentary) articulate similar sentiments today on RTE 2 during the event. There is also a similar sentiment in a comment from James O’Callaghan, the ISA High Performance Manager’s comment made after the race today;
“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, Annalise can be proud of the fact that she had the nation on the edge of their seats for the series and I am sure there were plenty to share her tears with her during her poignant but very gallant interview after the race. She is gutsy and portrays a great image of the sport and hopefully she will return for Rio in 2016 and enjoy success.