There was heartbreak for Irish Sailor Annalise Murphy who finished fourth overall at the London Olympics
Going in to the medal race Annalise was 3rd 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 9th 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 4th but not a medal contender and Annalise in 5th to finish her Olympic campaign in 4th 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 4 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”.
Who is Annalise Murphy? How did she qualify for London 2012? Any family background in sailing?
“As Annalise said recently the Germans get an Audi TT each, and she gets to carry Mr Tayto.”
Annalise Murphy is a 22 year old UCD student who is competed her first Olympic Games in London and finished 4th. She sails a boat called the Laser Radial which is the Women’s Single Handed Olympic Class. A typical day’s training for Annalise can vary from a 4 hour cycle around the Dublin Mountains, intense strength and conditioning workouts with Mark Mc Cabe in Sport’s Med Ireland to on the water sessions out of her home club the National Yacht Club in DunLaoghaire. When abroad Annalise will bring her bike and her boat to continue this training and to compete in the different regattas around the world. She qualified for London 2012 in Perth, Western Australia last December. December. Perth was a great success for Annalise where she finished 6th overall securing her place in London 2012 by a large margin. This year has been a mix of highs and lows but overall Annalise’s consistency in putting series of races together has improved. She had a disappointing event in Palma and at the Worlds in Germany but climbed back up from this low to win bronze again at the Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth, a town she has always loved and where some of her most inspiring performances have been achieved,even before this week. At 6ft 1 inch (185cm) and 72kg (159lbs) she is an ideal build for the Laser Radial class and of course she also benefits from having a great family background. Mum Cathy and Dad Con were well known sailors. Her hobbies she says are : “Sailing, surfing, hockey”. It is a hugely expensive sport and Annalise has no sponsorship apart from a very welcome €5,000 donated to a few athletes by Tayto. in return for which they carry Mr Tayto around for photographs. As Annalise said recently the Germans get an Audi TT each, and she gets to carry Mr Tayto. However that could well now all change after such a tremendous performance in Weymouth with hopefully even better to come. It does help though that she received a podium grant of Euros 40,000 from the Irish Sports Council though that does not last long when you take into account the huge cost of world travel, accommodation and associated expenses but of course her family have been of tremendous help down through the years. Her Mum Cathy (nee McAleavey), represented Ireland in sailing at the 1988 Olympic Games Cathy with husband, Con, (also a fine sailor,indeed Cathy’s coach at the Seoul Olympics) , still holds the Round Ireland speed record, set in 1993 as crew on Steve Fossett’s trimaran Lakota. ‘I’ll leave that record to my parents,’ Annalise told the ‘Irish Times’ on receiving a Sportswoman of the Month award The three Murphy offspring, Claudine, Finn and Annalise, “grew up thinking that the Olympics was just something you did”, Cathy told the “Irish Times” in an interview last week. Annalise,she explained, pushed on with her Olympics campaign after her Leaving Certificate, Claudine knuckled down to her engineering degree and went on to do a masters in biomechanics. “Now they’re so close,” she says. Claudine flew back this week from the Dominican Republic – where she had been kiteboarding – to support her sister. Kiteboarding is a sport that happens to be making its debut at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “Claudine is thinking of having a go. My husband has gone grey . Cathy joked with the “Irish Times”. Finn meantime has “taken over” Annalise’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and is keeping her legion of fans up todate @annalise_murphy and via facebook.com/AnnaliseMurphySailing Annalise crewed her first boat at the tender age of six and first moved to her current Laser Radial class back in 2005. Currently ranked 11 in the world, she showed her class and early promise by finishing eight the 2009 Worlds. She is currently on ‘sailing leave’ from her science degree in UCD to allow her to concentrate full time on sailing, in that quest for a medal in the Olympics. Back in December, after qualifying via Perth , she told RTE : ”After this year I feel like I am a medal contender for the Games. 2011 has been a brilliant year for me: I’ve finished in the top ten at every World Cup – bar one where I was 11th – and sixth at the Olympic Test Event and now the worlds.”. Annalise told the I.S.A.F in Weymouth this evening : ”It can’t get much better than winning the first four races but there’s still six fleet races left so it’s going to be really tough. All of the girls are really good and I think I’ve had a bit of luck and things have gone my way but that doesn’t always happen in sailing.” With further big winds predicted throughout the week Murphy, who is one of the best big wind Laser Radial sailors, is taking it day by day, ”I’m trying not to look at the forecast,” said Murphy. ”We’ve got a forecast guy and he tells us in the morning what’s going to happen. I don’t want to think about it too much but if you start speculating on the forecast you’re just going to get obsessed with what could happen.”
Points are awarded in each race: first scores one point, second scores two points, etc. There are ten races which nine are counted towards your score and then finally a medal race. The 10 best sailors then advance to the medal race. Points are doubled, so first place gets two points, second gets four, etc. The points total after the medal race determines the placings. The athlete/crew with the lowest number of points is the winner.