Thursday 29 September 2016

A silver lining as Annalise sails to Olympic glory

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 17/08/2016 | 02:30

Annalise Murphy celebrates with her brother Finn (left), mother Cathy McAleavey and sister Claudine (right of picture) after claiming the silver medal. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Annalise Murphy celebrates with her brother Finn (left), mother Cathy McAleavey and sister Claudine (right of picture) after claiming the silver medal. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It was all hands on deck to celebrate Annalise Murphy's Olympic silver medal joy at her sailing club in Dún Laoghaire. Gale-force cheers swept across the waters of the harbour yesterday as members of the National Yacht Club roared with delight as their warrior of the waves sailed her boat to glory.

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"It's fantastic, I'm over the moon. Everyone at the club is so happy for her. After all these years, Annalise has delivered the goods," said one of the Olympic heroine's best friends, Suzi Roy (26).

Sailing team-mate Finn Lynch waves at her from the shore. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sailing team-mate Finn Lynch waves at her from the shore. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

"She has been so focused for so long, and she worked so hard for so long. What a fantastic achievement."

After the drawn-out and nerve-racking final minutes of the women's laser radial medal race in Rio, the club members celebrated in brilliant sunshine as colourful flags fluttered all around.

After the country endured an emotional pummelling with the defeats of boxers Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan, the clouds of disappointment parted when Annalise sailed into the nation's heart with her wonderful silver lining.

Another close friend, Katie Curtin (27), said she could not wait to accompany Annalise and Suzi on a little holiday when the Olympics are over.

Supporters at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire cheer her success. Pic Steve Humphreys
Supporters at the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire cheer her success. Pic Steve Humphreys

"She did it - she pulled it out of the bag. She has spent years working for this," said Kate. "She's the first Irish woman ever to win an Olympic medal for sailing. She's wonderful."

Club member Siobhan Leech (58) said: "The whole club is entirely emotional. We can raise a glass of champagne tonight. She worked so hard - everything she did in the race was very tactical. It was a great win.

"She has spent 128 days in Brazil over the last four years trying to work out the currents, the tides and the winds. That's dedication."

Club commodore Larry Power (67) said: "We'll raise the roof to welcome her back. She worked so hard and she did what she had to do. This is going to inspire so many young Irish people to take up sailing. It's not an elitist sport - you can get a second-hand boat for €500. We're expecting an upsurge in our junior sailing classes now."

Annalise’s friend Suzi Roy. Pic Steve Humphreys
Annalise’s friend Suzi Roy. Pic Steve Humphreys

Member Carol O'Rourke (50) said some of those in Annalise's WhatsApp group wrote a song for her to the air of 'The Fields of Athenry'.

However, the lyrics have been totally altered to: "Low lie the waves of Rio Bay, where once we saw the laser radials fly, she didn't fear a thing, so that is why we sing, bring the gold home Annalise, and make us cry."

Carol's husband Jonathan added: "Annalise is a smasher. She's such an unassuming person.

"She truly deserves her Olympic medal, and now she has the monkey of the London Olympics off her back."

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins issued a statement praising her success.

"On behalf of the people of Ireland, I warmly congratulate Annalise Murphy on winning a sailing Olympic silver," it said. "Her performance today capped a series of outstanding races. She went to Rio with an Irish Tricolour on her sail, and she has made us all very proud.

"After the disappointment of her 2012 Olympic medal race, her success today is even more welcome and deserved. Annalise Murphy has travelled the long and hard road to the Olympics, has faced the world's best athletes in her sport and has now reaped the rewards of her many years of preparation and hard work.

"On behalf of the people of Ireland, I want to congratulate her on this achievement, and to thank her family and friends for their sustained support for her, and for helping her become such a positive role model for budding athletes everywhere."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said winning Ireland's first sailing medal in the Olympics since 1980 was a fantastic achievement and testament to Annalise's hard work, dedication and talent.

"I am delighted for Annalise, her family and for Irish sailing," he said.

Irish Independent

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