Michael Bailey , London Olympics correspondent
Monday, August 13, 2012
It may have been day 16 and the finalé of the London Olympics, but Norwich windsurfer Nick Dempsey finally got to sample the Olympic Park – made all the sweeter by taking a silver medal with him.
The sailor made up for his Beijing tears, where gunning for gold in his final race ended in a medalless fourth, with an excellent silver medal on the water at Weymouth 143 miles away – topping his mistral bronze from Athens.
And far from looking forward to a break after his gruelling exploits of 11 races in eight days, Dempsey is already missing the London Games.
“Luckily I’ve managed not to cry this year, certainly fewer tears than Beijing,” said Mulbarton-born Dempsey. “I’m massively proud of what I’ve achieved and very satisfied.
“Now it’s a few days after I’ve finished, I’m starting to get quite sad it’s all over because the run into the Games is always the best moment of my life.
“That last two-month run in is just incredible, because you’re in the zone and surrounded by amazing people that would do anything for you to help you achieve your goal, and to actually deliver is one hell of a relief.
“It’s the journey to try to achieve something that is a bit difficult but quite special, so it’s sad to see the end of it.
“Personally, the Games have been amazing. This is my first visit up at the village and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all looks, but down in Dorset it’s been incredible.
“The public’s engagement with sailing was something you never really see. To have 8,000 to race in front of every day has been special.”
With the Games wrapping up – however much Dempsey hopes they will continue – questions will immediately move to the legacy of London 2012 across Britain.
Arguably the first foundation stone arrived on Sunday with David Cameron’s pledge to continue Team GB’s public funding until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s fantastic news,” said Dempsey. “That’s our bread and butter. That’s what has made the difference over the last decade.
“The lottery funding has been the best thing that has ever happened to sport – and to continue with the government backing is superb. That’s the core of what an athlete needs, so it looks good for us and for our future to carry on doing what we are doing and hopefully trying to win more medals in Rio.”
Which leads into a rather obvious next question – will 31-year-old Dempsey, whose windsurfing discipline will be dropped from the Olympic schedule after London, also make the trip to Brazil?
“Rio? I’m knocking on a bit,” he smiled. “I’m not ready to retire though, and I’ve got a bronze medal and a silver medal. And I’d quite like a new challenge – so possibly something else in Rio would be pretty good.
“Kite surfing would be the easiest thing to do, but I might jump in a boat and try a few things. I’m really excited about it. I’ve been windsurfing my whole life and I love it – but wow, I could do with a change.
“So I’m massively excited about doing something different. It’s going to be a really exciting six months.”