Annalise Murphy banishes London agony with silver finish

Dún Laoghaire sailor euphoric but boxer Michael Conlan suffers contentious defeat

At the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, fans and friends gathered to watch Annalise Murphy win silver in Rio. Video: Ronan McGreevy

 

For all the advance fear about the water in Rio, it has contained nothing but magical properties for Ireland.

On a sparkling day in Guanabara Bay, Annalise Murphy navigated her course through nine crowded boats and four years of private Olympic disappointment to finish silver after the women’s laser radial final race.

It is Ireland’s second silver medal in these Olympics, four days after the O’Donovan brothers’ row in the double sculls.

And it was a hugely redemptive race for the Dún Laoghaire sailor, who had prepared for Rio under muted expectations some four years after she was cruelly squeezed from medal placing at the London games.

In a teary TV interview that day, she vowed she would be back. And here she was, unable to contain her laughter after a tense week of racing.

Shell-shocked

In the weeks ahead, the furiously diligent preparation which Murphy made for this regatta will become known. She had already spent more than 100 days learning the subtleties of the Rio course.

As it happened, Rio confronted the sailors with wildly varying weather conditions. Murphy sailed with supreme skill in each of the 10 races, never drifting out of the top three in a fleet of 36 boats. Yesterday’s medal race forced her to confront that haunting day in London four years ago.

“I just knew I had to go out and sail my own race and not worry about anybody else until it came to the last down-wind because if I was thinking about other people, that’s when you start not doing what you want to and you start doing what other people are trying do, which isn’t necessarily the right thing. But to actually go and do it is just amazing.”

Boxing elimination

Michael Conlan

It was a result which left the Irish camp apoplectic with rage, with Conlan vowing never to box as an amateur again.

“My Olympic dream was robbed from me today,” Conlan said emotionally, dismissing the decision as outright cheating.

It was the final bleak note in an extraordinarily punishing week for Irish Olympic boxers amid mounting suspicion that they have been victim to arbitrary judging decisions.

Just hours later, Murphy again showed that the Olympics tournament is one of extreme emotions, as she became just the fourth woman to win an Olympic medal for Ireland.

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