Norwich-born windsurfer Nick Dempsey going for Rio gold as he eyes Olympic history
PUBLISHED: 18:51 09 March 2016 | UPDATED: 18:51 09 March 2016
© Richard Langdon
Double world champion Nick Dempsey will become the most successful men’s Olympic windsurfer in history if he wins gold at Rio.
With just under 150 days to go to the Olympic Games, the British Olympic Association (BOA) yesterday announced five additional sailors from three classes selected to compete for Great Britain this summer.
Dempsey’s looks set to become a five-time Olympian in South America after the London 2012 silver medallist and Athens 2004 bronze medallist was selected for the RS:X men’s class.
“It’s pretty special,” said Norwich-born Dempsey, aged 35, who now lives in Weymouth.
“I have been doing this for a long time and I just feel incredibly proud and very lucky to represent my country again at my fifth Olympic Games. I never thought I would make it this far and so am very honoured. It feels like quite an achievement, not a lot does, but this does.
“I do this because I want to win an Olympic gold medal for myself and I want to achieve what I know I can achieve and that is to win so I’m going to give it a go, stick at it and hopefully do what I know I can do.”
Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth, who finished fifth at the 2015 World Championships, will make their Olympic debuts in the 49erFX – a new event for Rio – with 2015 European champions Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves following suit in the Nacra 17 mixed multihull event, which also sees its first Games outing this year.
The five sailors join those initially selected in September. However, from those selected in September, the BOA, in conjunction with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), has made the difficult decision to deselect the 470 men’s pairing of Luke Patience and Elliot Willis.
Due to the latter’s ongoing treatment for bowel cancer, as a two-person crew, they are unfortunately unable to follow the combined training programme required to maximise their chances of success in Brazil.
Selection trials in the category will therefore continue, with the trials in the 49er class also ongoing.
British sailors have established a proud tradition of excellence in Olympic competition, having won 55 medals, including 26 golds, since sailing made its debut at Paris 1900 with Team GB topping the overall Olympic sailing medal table.
Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England said: “It’s great to welcome five new athletes to Team GB and see our number of selected sailors grow further.
“Rio 2016 will be a special occasion for each of these sailors, with four experiencing an Olympic Games for the very first time while Nick Dempsey will be joining a select group of athletes who have achieved the accolade of competing for Team GB at five consecutive Olympic Games.
“While it’s a great day for them, it’s hugely disappointing for both Luke and Elliot, and everyone at the BOA wishes Elliot the very best in his recovery.”
Giles Scott (Finn), Nick Thompson (Laser), Alison Young (Laser Radial), Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (470 Women) and Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women) are the other competitors named in GB’s current contingent. Yesterday’s selection takes the British total athlete delegation to 21 from three sports; sailing (11), shooting (six) and canoe slalom (four).
Cambridge-born Ben Saxton, 25, who now lives in Weymouth, added: “I’m pretty excited to do two things towards the Games, one is get a medal for Nicola and I, and the other is to support the rest of the sailing team as much as possible.
“A lot of our foreigner competitors are envious of what we have got but I think we’ve a good mix, with the likes of Nick Dempsey and all of his Olympics experience, as well as some youth and enthusiasm.”