Shane Dempsey from St Mary’s College Rathmines recently sat down with Irish Olympic hero Annalise Murphy as part of his Gaisce award and spoke to her about the crazy year she has had since London 2012.
When asked whether her life had changed since the Olympics, Annalise commented that certain aspects had, yet the majority was still the same.
“I don’t think much has changed since the Olympics,” said the Irish sailor. “I still get up every morning and go training. Occasionally someone might stop me and wish me well which is always really nice, but generally I wouldn’t be recognised.”
Annalise admitted that a top ten finish was her goal prior to the Olympics, but her excellent performance meant that her expectations quickly rose.
“I went into the Olympics feeling extremely prepared and knew if I sailed at my best I would have a shot at winning a medal. Of course my overall goal was a top ten finish and that would help me be prepared for Rio, but once that week started I knew I was going fast so my own expectations rose.”
Despite the bitter-sweet emotions that go with finishing fourth, Annalise hopes that her performance in London will encourage other young people to get involved in sailing in Ireland. Sailing is her passion and she speaks about the sport with a passionate tone.
“I love the sport of sailing, not only is it physical but also hugely tactical and it means that even if your maybe not going quite as fast as everyone you can still get ahead by understanding the wind better.
“Sailing is also a sport for life, I hope that I will still be out enjoying it when I am much older! So I guess I am delighted that maybe my Olympics will get more people involved in the sport and see how much fun sailing can be.
Annalise admitted that her excellent start was a great boost, but that sailing, like most sports, can be very unpredictable.
“Sailing regattas go on over 6 days, so if you get good results you take them, as it can be a slightly unpredictable sport.
“You try to take every race as it comes. I think I just gave myself a very good head start on my competitors.”
Unsurprisingly, Annalise is fascinated by the physical side of sports and lives a very active lifestyle. She has even taken part in an Ironman competition and has the trophy to prove it.
“I completed a half Ironman which I think is a pretty good achievement, I probably didn’t put in the right preparation as it was really tough, but looking back I am glad I did it!
“I even came second in my age group so I won a prize which I was pretty pleased with as I haven’t won many non-sailing prizes!
Unfortunately, Annalise’s first event after the Olympics did not go to plan, and a harsh penalty meant the Rathfarnham native came home empty-handed.
“My World Cup event in Miami this year was very different, it was my first event back so I was just looking on where I have to improve.
“I was pretty happy with how my week went but unfortunately in the 2nd medal race I was given a penalty at the finish which dropped my from winning that race to 8th. I was pretty frustrated by it so that meant my last race didn’t go so hotly either.”
The points system in sailing is one that often garners controversy and Annalise believes that a fresh approach would improve the sport.
“ISAF (International Sailing Federation) are trying out new scoring systems at the moment to try and make sailing a more exciting sport for the TV audience.
“This means over the next couple of years everyone, including me, will probably be confused about the scoring! But I am sure they will come up with something that is fair and exciting by 2016!”
A busy year awaits Annalise, with a number of international and European events.
“I will be doing the World Cup event in France in April, then European Cup events in Lake Garda and Weymouth, before the Europeans which are in Dublin and the Worlds in China.”
The Dublin sailor admits that there are parts of her sailing that she is looking to improve and that everything is geared towards the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“We are looking at all the little things I can improve on over the next 4 years, as it’s all about the fine tuning.”
Annalise admits she takes inspiration from a number of Irish sporting icons.
“For me personally I would say Sonia O’Sullivan is definitely [an inspiration]. Katie Taylor and Brian O’Driscoll are also pretty epic sporting icons in Ireland.”