The pandemic's impact on Olympic hopes and dreams continues to spread with news that Irish Sailing has nominated Annalise Murphy to compete in the Laser Radial class at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.
Murphy, a silver medallist at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, was one of four sailors battling to make it to Japan in the class before the shutdown. Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller, and Eve McMahon were the other three with their eyes on the prize.
Murphy also sailed for Ireland at the 2012 Olympics when she narrowly missed out on a medal.
The quartet was due to compete across three regattas for the honour of representing Ireland but two, the Palma and Hyéres events, were cancelled after initial regatta in Melbourne in which Murphy's 12th place was 28 places ahead of Hopkins, her nearest Irish colleague.
The selection process seems to be clear: the person with the best performance in completed regattas would secure the Laser Radial place in the event that one or more of the trials are cancelled. So, Murphy it is.
“Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials,” said James O’Callaghan, Irish Sailing's performance director. “By nominating her now the Irish Sailing Board have ensured that team preparations can move focus to the Olympics rather than preparing for domestic trials.”
The international sailing calendar, as with so many sports, is still up in the air.
The plan is that the Irish team will continue to train at home in the Dún Laoghaire Performance HQ. Hopkins, a senior carded athlete, will continue with the training group along with McMahon who is a member of the academy. Keller has decided to return to college.
“For sure this is tough on Aoife but she is still very young and can benefit massively from team training planned in Tokyo,” said O'Callaghan.