Coming 4th in Athens gave the Olympic Laser champion the impetus to succeed in 2008
There is no worse position to finish an Olympics than 4th. In Athens in 2004 Laser sailor Paul Goodison took the so-called ‘leather medal’ and it was a chastening esperience. “I just remember thinking that I never wanted to feel like that again,” says the current Olympic champion and former Laser World and European champion. “Just remembering how bad it felt is enough to drive me on to make sure that
I never take anything for granted. My biggest concern is that I don’t ever look back and say: ‘If only I’d done this or that’.”
Paul Goodison cannot bear to think there is something he has overlooked. Whether this obsession comes from the massive disappointment of Athens, or whether he’s always had an obsessive streak is hard to tell, until he starts to describe other points in his life where he has had to make key decisions.
Winning Gold at the 2008 Olympics delivered the success he so desperately wanted, yet it came with a health rish.
“I was so happy at winning the Gold that I didn’t realise what I was doing to myself in celebrating the success,” he says. “During Christmas 2008 I suddenly realised what I’d done when I could barely recognise myself in the mirror. I couldn’t believe how much I’d destroyed my body partying.”
That was his motivation for 2009 and he took both World and European titles, and received an MBE and an honorary doctorate from Solent University. But he was still asking questions of his performance.
“I then began to wonder whether I was peaking too soon for 2012 as I really wanted to win at the London Games,” he says. “So I changed my plans for 2012 to try to achieve a slightly more relaxed and varied sailing programme.” He won the Melges 32 European championships.
Goodison’s private life looks equally fanatical. He lives with his girlfriend, Olympic 470 sailor Saskia Clark, in a semi- detached house on a modern housing estate just a few minutes away from the Olympic venue in Weymouth. Their neighbours include several other Olympic sailors.
Its white walls are relieved by a Union flag cushion decorating the single sofa while the conservatory provides storage for an upturned mountain bike. Yet it is his garage that he is most proud of, with sailing kit packed as neatly as a reference library.
From garage to Gold medal, it’s discipline that makes the difference for Goodison.