Great expectations would have hindered Annalise Murphy as the sailor left for Rio, of that she is now certain.
She returned home yesterday afternoon to Dublin Airport, however, an Olympic silver medallist.
Devastated by a fourth-place finish in the Laser Radial at London 2012, the Rathfarnham native ventured to Brazil shy of confidence.
“Up until a few months ago I was unsure if I would be able to perform in Rio,” Murphy said. “We had a running joke. I was going; ‘Well I hope I just don’t finish last’. Every day I would come in from racing and go; ‘Well I guess today was good. I didn’t finish last again’.
“I’ve always thought for the last four years my best was in London, and I was never going to be able to get close to a medal again.
“In the sailing world a lot of people told me that Rio wasn’t going to suit me, and I wasn’t going to be able to perform well there, so it was hard to have to try and overcome that and be able to believe that I would be able to do it.”
Unburdened by the shackles of external pressure, Murphy thrived and returned the poster girl for the Irish Olympic team, however.
“It’s been brilliant. The response from Ireland and the Irish sailing community has been incredible. To go online and see all the support from my friends and everyone - I can’t even describe it. It’s mental.
“I was just taking it one race at a time. When I was actually finished, and realised I managed to do the job that we had set out to do, it was then a relief. The next day, I woke up and thought I had to do it all over again. I didn’t really realise that it had actually happened.”
Murphy said friends had sent pictures of her on the front pages of newspapers, adding: “I do think it’s important for the Irish media to celebrate all of the results.
“That’s something that should be top of the headlines, rather than the negative side of it.”
She deftly fielded questions about the arrest of Pat Hickey and other distractions too. Yet, the 26-year-old explained her focus remained intact by avoiding social media.
“I was just so happy when I got to the final windward mark of the medal race. I knew I was going to get at least the silver. It was a dream come true.
“I still haven’t really been able to believe that I actually won a medal.”
Annalise was flanked by her parents Cathy and Con and by team coach Rory Fitzpatrick and psychologist Kate Kirby.
“This result proves that our strategy in high performance is working and is providing the success that all involved in sailing and sport crave,” commented David Lovegrove, President of the Irish Sailing Association.
Supporters can meet Murphy tomorrow evening, when an official homecoming takes place in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire.
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