Annalise Murphy: The months spent in Rio before the Games were key to Olympic success

The Olympic silver medallist spoke to Off The Ball this evening

BY Cian Roche 21:05 Tuesday 23 August 2016, 21:05 23 Aug 2016

Annalise Murphy returned back to Ireland today, greeted with a hero's welcome after winning silver in the Rio Olympic Games last week.   

The 26-year-old, taking part in only her second Olympic Games, picked up her medal in the discipline of sailing (laser radial) and made amends for narrowly missing out on a podium finish in London four years ago.

Speaking on tonight's Off The Ball she explained the difference between now and the London Games was the amount of time she spent studying the course in Rio.This gave her a clear advantage over competitors who hadn't been familiar with conditions in Guanabara Bay.

"All of my days out there were massively beneficial," she said. "I have a really good memory at being able to remember race courses and days on the water. When it came to the racing, I'd look at the wind direction and remember 'OK, I've had five days where it's been similar to this and I know what works on those days'.

"It's such a geographic location Rio, there's so huge mountains everywhere and a really strong tide. I felt like I just understood it better than a lot of the other girls. I noticed that in races that when I started and went in a certain direction, not that many would go the same direction as me. 

"I was almost a little bit smug about it thinking 'Ah-ha! They obviously don't know where they're going.' I think that was part of the reason I was able to sail such a consistent series, because a lot of the other girls had a lot of good races but they had a few bad ones as well. 

"Whereas I had a couple of races in the teens but not really compared to my competitors."

She continued: "I'd come in from sailing and I'd draw out all the race courses, what was working and what wasn't.  We did like a pros and cons of each of the courses, where you would get caught out and where we could make gains.  

"Then, I printed them all off and laminated them to bring them all out. Everyday before racing we could go through each of the race courses and look at what was going to come up on the day. That's how I think I ended up with this medal."

Annalise Murphy on the podium celebrating winning her silver medal in Rio. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

While competition for medals is fierce, she explains that friendships remain strong due to the familiarity of competitors with one another. As competitions wear on and medal chances grow and slip away for others, the sense of comradery returns to the competition.

"I'm always wanting to talk to everyone, I'm friends with everyone in the fleet. But the last few weeks my coach said 'Annalise, you have to stop having the chats with everyone out on the water because you get distracted too easily.'

"One of the difficulties was not going and having chats with the other girls, because I'm really good friends with them. But in the medal race, it was a really nice feeling going into it because I knew I had a really good group of friends that - even though I had been competing against them all week - they were all rooting for me.

"At the start of the competition when you're all competing against each other, everyone's going to be friendly but you know this is what you've all been working for for the last four years. Everyone knows that because we're all friends with each other is because we're all competing to get to the Olympics. When you get to the Olympics, you aren't not necessarily be friends on the water, you're out there to race.

"But as the competition goes on, because sailing goes on for a very long time, the points get higher and people don't have very good races, it becomes impossible for people to beat you. Suddenly you start being more friendly with them again."

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