Heartaches and Highs
When a race goes down to the wire you’d expect the story to be about a nail biting battle between two or more competitors. But on the Laser course today the tension was at its first peak as the clock counted down to the final minutes of the Olympics.
On a day when the breeze was fitful at best, the race committee had two attempts at setting a race, the first abandoned before the boats had reached the weather mark, the second during the starting sequence. If the race didn’t get underway by 1555 local, the results would stand as of the previous day, great for Scheidt, Geritzer and Zbogar who occupied the top three slots, a potential disaster for Paul Goodison who lay just one point outside the medals.
But with just a few minutes to go, the race did indeed get started with the Frenchman Felix Pruvot leading the field around the top mark. Scheidt rounded in 10th, the Austrian 14th and the Slovenian 18th but Goodison was back in the pack at 24th. Although he managed to get past the Slovenian after the first downwind leg to get into a bronze medal position, he couldn’t maintain his advantage and finished a dispirited 17th, four places behind Zbogar.
“I’m really gutted. I really thought this morning that I could get a bronze or a silver and that’s what I had my sights on and to come away with nothing is really upsetting,” he said after the race. “I think I’ve just got to take positives from what I’ve learned this week.”
An interesting comment given Scheidt’s comments just a few minutes earlier when he answered questions about whether he saw himself as a great sailor, or a great Laser sailor.
“Normally you learn more when you lose than when you win,” he said. He should know, his route to this, his second gold medal, was disrupted in the now infamous match race between him and Ainslie at the last Olympics. He too was devastated at the loss of a crucial race.
“Four years later I think I’m more mature and the experience taught me a lot of things,” he said.
With seven world championships and two gold medals in the class you might question whether there was much more for him to learn in this boat, so would he be looking towards the 2008 Olympics?
“Not in a Laser,” he said. “I’ll take the next couple of months to think about it and decide what I’ll do for the next Games. Let’s see, I can’t give you a yes or a no.”
But dockside gossip suggests that he might have his eye on the Finn class which would certainly make for an interesting case of déjà vu if Ben Ainslie decided to have another crack in this class.
Someone else looking to change boats after sealing a well deserved and predictable gold in the Europe class today was Siren Sundby who was talking of perhaps moving to the 470 class for the next Olympics.
Meanwhile for those still battling it out on the water there were further highs and lows. In the Star class Torben Grael is stamping his authority by taking two bullets today and stretching out an early lead. After winning the first race yesterday Paul Cayard had an uncomfortable day today in the double figure zone leaving him 7th overall, one place ahead of GBR sailors Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell. But at the other end of the scale Star favourite and current world champion Fredrik Loof is having a shocker of a series, or an Ainslie as it might become known and lies last overall after four races.
Highs and heartaches, the Olympics is full of them.