A Weird Day to Win (and lose)
So that is it. Five medals for the British sailors and the best performance in the entire British squad for the second time.
Today’s race hardly mattered for UK supporters, Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell couldn’t resuscitate their medal hopes. Their best possible final result would be a 4th overall and even then it required Paul Cayard to have a nightmare of a day and round up the back of the fleet. Yeah, sure.
Percy and Mitchell’s final position must have felt all the more sickening given the perfect conditions that followed on the lay day yesterday when a strong sea breeze came in early and remained in for the day. Talk about adding insult to injury. So Thursday was the day that Great Britain secured another impressive success – yet it didn’t feel like it at the time.
First the 49ers came off the water with a bronze medal and long faces with it. They so desperately wanted a gold. A few hours later and Percy & Mitchell were blown out of the Games and forced to look forwards to the 2008 in Beijing to salvage any kind of positive hope or uplift.
And so it was the British press pack, Fleet Street and all that trudged back from the interview area to their laptops in the media centre, depressed and downhearted on a day that Team GBR had become the envy of the sailing world and the pride of the British team. A few hours later and the achievement had started to soak in, helped along by some Retsina and Ouzo. By morning most had recovered their spirit and were walking tall and standing proud.
Friday was a lay day so a trip to the main stadium, my first ever, seemed in order. But once again the emotional roller coaster got underway.
First the excitement of the huge and spectacular stadium which resonated at fever pitch for most of the night, especially when a Greek athlete stepped out into the field of play, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with pride. What?!
A sharp reminder was delivered when our own crest-fallen Paula Radcliffe stepped into the arena and reminded me who I was supposed to be supporting and that I wasn’t Greek after all. Surely this, the 10,000m was going to be a proud moment for her, Great Britain and all those watching. Twenty-one minutes after the starting gun had fired it was all over and we were back down in the dumps.
Whatever happened today would be stress free for Brits, at least on the water, the deals had been done and little more could shock or surprise. Until that is, Cayard took a nose dive from the start and finished last, the French team of Xavier Rohart and Pascal Rambeau lost their silver medal to the Canadians Ross Macdonald and Mike Wolfs and away with a bronze.
On the Tornado course Austrian sailors Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher denied the Americans another gold and kept John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree in silver. The Argentinean team of Carlos Santiago and Carlos Espinola secured bronze.
There is only one thing you could have been certain of here, it’s never over ’till it’s over.
It is now.