Annalise Murphy proves to be an 'able navigator'
The 18th-century English historian, writer and politician Edmund Gibbon once noted: "The wind and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigator."
Never did these words seem so apt than when Annalise Murphy took to Guanabara Bay yesterday. Already firmly in the bronze-medal position, the Dublin woman excelled under the pressure, displayed her vast repertoire of skills on the water and brought home the silver for Ireland.
Four years ago at London 2012 she had the disappointment of losing out on a medal finish. So close and yet so far. She says it was "the hardest day of my life". She put that setback behind her, learned from it and rose to the challenge of tackling the Rio 2016 course. Over the past two years, she has made several trips to Rio to familiarise herself with the challenging course.
In his message of congratulations, President Michael D Higgins rightly observed: "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."
Murphy's perseverance and dedication to her sport led to her ultimate triumph. She proved herself to be our nation's ablest navigator.
Meanwhile, after the disappointments of the last fortnight for the Irish boxing team came the final setback yesterday when Michael Conlan exited the Olympics.
Questions will be asked about the preparation of the team as a whole, but a profound sense of injustice surrounds the defeat of our final medal hope in the ring. Conlan will feel let down by the boxing authorities. Hopefully, he too will use the experience as motivation.
Changing rules unfair to Leaving Cert students
This morning, 55,000 Leaving Cert students will receive their results. It's a defining moment in many young people's lives. The mixture of grades can certainly define their career path if they choose to go to third level. So fingers crossed.
However, the class of 2017 also have worries to contend with regarding college offers.
CAO applicants in 2017 face significant hikes in the grades they will need for certain degree courses. In other cases, the minimum requirement may drop or stay the same.
Among the changes is an increase, from a minimum 55pc to 60pc, in the mark that applicants for college engineering courses will need in higher-level maths.
Guidance counsellors have expressed concern about making these changes to entry requirements for college courses at this point. The move leaves incoming sixth years facing the challenge of achieving higher grades.
Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC) president Betty McLaughlin said higher requirements, where they are introduced, would put "extra pressure" on the class of 2017.
She says the proposal defeats the intended purpose of taking the heat out of the points system.
What does appear unfair is landing these changes halfway through the Leaving Cert cycle. On entering fifth year, students do start to make choices around what honours subjects to take.
To draw a sporting analogy in honour of the Olympics: you can't change the rules of the game at half-time.