Murphy’s tall order

by Karl Graham

RATHFARNHAM’S Rio hopeful Annalise Murphy believes her experience in London four years ago could be vital as she battles to go one step further in Brazil and claim a medal.
Murphy won her first four races in the Laser Radial class to set her up for glory at London 2012 but the final two days saw her slip down the order – eventually finishing an agonising fourth.
Speaking at the Irish Sailing Association’s Try Sailing campaign to attract newcomers to the sport, Murphy explained how nerves eventually got to here as she chased gold.
“During the London Olympics I got very nervous when I was winning overall because I wasn’t expecting to be winning. It became a very stressful time for me because it was such a shock and I was young at the time.
“I remember dreaming before the London Olympics ‘wouldn’t it be great if I won all the races?’ No sailor thinks they are going to win all the races, not even Ben Ainslie. Maybe I would have been better if I came second instead, I wouldn’t have been as freaked out,” said Murphy.
Working on her weaknesses has become a big part of Murphy’s game and it’s easy to see why when, at six foot one, she stands seven inches above most of her competitors.
This leaves her at a massive disadvantage if winds are light so the 26-year-old is hoping the Anemoi, the Greek gods of wind, will be out in force at Rio.
“Being taller has its advantages when it’s windy; I’m able to lean out of the boat. It’s like the law of the lever, I’m longer than everyone else so I’m able to keep the boat flatter and go faster.
“The last four years has been fine tuning as opposed to making massive leaps and bounds, which I was doing in the lead-up to London,” explained Murphy.
Pollution in the host city’s water has become a big talking point but Murphy, who races out of the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire, believes it is a matter of just getting on with it.
“The water quality isn’t ideal but it’s fine. I’ve been out there nine times and I’ve never been sick, touch wood. It’s something you have to deal with but the organiser’s are definitely making an effort to clean up the area.”
Many athletes attending Rio will no doubt bring many bizarre rituals to the Games but Murphy’s trait is more of a distraction – and a typically Irish one.
“I love chatting to people and I have to not chat to so many people because I get distracted. The other girls will come over and be talking to me about nothing to do with sailing like shopping. I end up getting drawn into it and my coach Rory will be like ‘Annalise stop gossiping’.”

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