Going for gold: When only one Olympic medal matters

Andy Rice reports from the Olympic Sailing in Tokyo 2020 on the heart break of just missing out on the top of the podium and the mental fortitude required to make it in the cut and thrust of Olympic competition.

How is it that anyone could possibly be distraught, in floods of tears, because they’re carrying a seven-point advantage going into an Olympic Sailing Medal Race?

The answer to that question, is ‘when it could have been at least a 27-point advantage.’

Denmark’s Anne-Marie Rindom had sailed a faultless Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing regatta up to the final qualifying race when her big points lead unravelled in a moment of madness, and not knowing the rules properly.

The defending Olympic Champion from the Netherlands, Marit Bouwmeester, on the other hand, had endured some major setbacks throughout the week including a black flag disqualification for breaking the start line too soon. As it turned out, Rindom did just enough to claim Laser Radial gold, Denmark’s first of the Tokyo 2020 Games. Josefin Olsson won silver for Sweden, and Bouwmeester had to settle for bronze.

For some a Bronze is cause for celebration, for others, like Marit Bouwmeester only one medal matters. Photo: Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Except Bouwmeester didn’t settle for bronze. I asked her afterwards whether she felt relief in having secured a medal when it looked like she might end up with nothing. Or was it regret at missing the gold?

“It’s really hard to be satisfied with the bronze medal. I think my way of approaching sport is that there’s only one medal that really counts. And I think I’ve been making too many big mistakes, especially with getting a black flag [disqualification].

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