October 23 2014 Latest news:
Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Mulbarton’s Nick Dempsey was one of the first in for Team GB – September was when his name went down on the list for a competitor’s pass at London 2012.
Then a few months later, the windsurfer was effectively told it will have to be his last Games. Kite-surfing will replace Dempsey’s sport from the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Dempsey’s protests at the decision have been vocal but that is more for the benefit of his sport and those coming through than to preserve his own career – a career in which the Norwich man has excelled.
He was a world champion in 2009 and second at this year’s weather-affected event in Cadiz. Then there was the Olympic bronze in Athens – Team GB’s first ever Olympic windsurfing medal.
But possibly more to the front of his memory is his fourth-placed finish in Beijing. So close to a second medal, the disappointment would fire anyone to make up for it four years later.
And then there is the venue. Not only does Dempsey have the advantage of a home crowd to will him to success – having lived by the Olympic water at Weymouth since the age of 20, Dempsey will know every ebb and flow come competition time.
Judging by his results, that knowledge makes a big difference.
“Yes, absolutely – everything else is kind of irrelevant,” said Dempsey, who took his world title at Weymouth. “You can perform well in Australia, France or any of the other regattas around the world, but actually the only place that really matters is Weymouth.
“I’ve got a very good track record there. I won the Sail for Gold Regatta last June and came third the year before, and then second in the test event. So I’ve never finished worse than the top three.
“It does help being on home water. You are just comfortable with your entire surroundings, not just on the water but off the water. You are in your own element and in your own environment, so it all becomes a little bit easier.
“I guess the difference between this and the previous Olympics will be the time at the venue. After the World Championships it was back to Weymouth – and not leaving there until after the Games. Whereas normally, like in China for example, we did two three-week stints.
“So you would only do a maximum of six weeks at the venue.
“Here we are doing a minimum of six months. I will know it well before the Games but by the time they come I will know it pretty damn well.”
The year has also been plenty busy off the water for Dempsey. He and wife, Olympic sailing gold medallist Sarah Ayton, celebrated the birth of their second child in March – at which time Dempsey half-joked about moving into a hotel to aid his London preparations.
On the water, it was Beijing silver medallist Julien Bontemps who trumped Dempsey in Cadiz earlier this year and he is the likely favourite to take gold for France in August.
But despite the demands to produce more than he managed on the water at Qingdao four years ago, Dempsey remains calm.
“The only pressure is the pressure you put on yourself, so yes I would love to win a gold medal but really it’s just about performing at your very best” he philosophised.
“That’s really all that is important and if that is good enough for a gold medal then that’s fantastic. And if it’s not, then it’s not. But as long as you’ve given it everything and you have performed at your best and done everything right, then you can’t really be unhappy.”
“I hope this will be the pinnacle. After London there will be a few options, but for now I’m treating it as the pinnacle of my career and you just make sure you do everything to make that a reality.”
Sport: Sailing – Men’s RS:X windsurfing. From: Mulbarton. Age: 31
Schedule (Weymouth and Portland): Tuesday, July 31 – 12pm Race 1, 12.45pm Race 2; Wednesday, August 1 – 12pm Race 3, 12.45pm Race 4; Thursday, August 2 – 4pm Race 5, 4.45pm Race 6; Saturday, August 4 – 2pm Race 7, 2.45pm Race 8; Sunday, August 5 – 2pm Race 9, 2.45pm Race 10; Tuesday, August 7 – 1pm Medal Race.