On the day we should have been enjoying the Tokyo 2020 Closing Ceremony, an uplifting message from the Rio 2016 silver medallist
Tell us about your memories of Rio 2016:
It was a pretty tense Medal Race, I was going in in third place but I had the potential to move up to second or first – but also to drop down to fourth or fifth. I was extra stressed, because I’d finished fourth in London 2012 after a pretty tense battle with three other girls for medals, so I was going into it really wanting to try and come away with a medal this time and not finish fourth again. After the first lap it was all really close. Then I was quite lucky, I got a little bit ahead on the second upwind, and then knew by the second wayward mark that I was going to probably get some kind of medal. Crossing the finish line – it was amazing. All of the disappointment of four years previous just disappeared; getting the medal in Rio was really amazing. Standing on the podium was more than I could have ever expected it to be, it was just incredible. Getting the medal around my neck and watching the Irish flag going up – that was something that I’ll have forever. It was probably one of the best moments of my life; being there with my family, my coach and my team-mates, that was an incredible thing. I just loved every minute of it.
What has lockdown been like for you? How did you train and keep fit onshore while you weren’t allowed to sail?
We should be in Tokyo doing the Olympics at the moment, but instead I’m at home. The lockdown in Ireland was quite strict – I wasn’t able to sail for six weeks, which was probably the longest time I haven’t been on the water for in my life. It was also nice to get to spend some time at home and not live out of a suitcase the entire time. I got pretty inventive; I made a gym in my back garden and did quite a lot of cycling on the turbo trainer on the virtual platform Zwift. I’ve been able to get back out training on the water and there’s actually really good sailing conditions that I normally miss, because normally I’m away competing. So I’m making the most of the great Irish summer, which is actually pretty cold, but good sailing conditions, nice wind, nice waves – it’s pretty nice to get to go home every day after sailing and sleep in your own bed.
With Tokyo 2020 being rescheduled to 2021, what are your plans for the next 12 months, and how will you prepare and train for another year of Olympic campaigning?
Looking forward – one more year to prepare for Tokyo 2021. It’s a year’s time and a lot can happen. I think everyone is probably going to use the year to prepare well, it’s something to look forward to. I think the Olympics are just the most amazing competition and them going ahead next year is going to be probably just what the world will need, to see some spectacular performances by athletes. Here’s to Tokyo 2021 and hopefully we’ll all be out on the racecourse soon.