Norwich’s Nick Dempsey told to adapt to survive following Olympic change
Nick Dempsey believes the move to take his discipline off the Olympic schedule after London 2012 is evidence sailing's world governing body is slowly ruining the sport – but Great Britain's sailing chief Stephen Park has no doubt the Norwich ace can adapt.
The 31-year-old, who finished fourth in the RS:X windsurfing event, was left puzzled by the ISAF's decision to replace that event with kiteboarding for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Dempsey will be among the favourites for gold at London 2012, having claimed World Championships gold in 2009 at the Olympic venue in Weymouth while he won silver at the test event last summer and the same colour medal last December's worlds in Perth.
While the ISAF's move does not sit well with Dempsey, he has dealt with a tweak to the Olympic schedule before when the Mistral class – another windsurfing event and the discipline in which he won Athens 2004 bronze – was replaced by the RS:X for Beijing 2008. And Park, who received an OBE for guiding Great Britain to a record-breaking medal haul of six at Beijing 2008, is convinced it is not the death of Dempsey's sailing career.
'The reality is that the news on windsurfing and kiteboarding is a bit of both – it's terrible for windsurfing as an Olympic sport but it's not the death of windsurfing, it will continue as a sport.
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'I'm not at all worried about Nick because if it is going to be kiteboarding, there is every opportunity for him to make the transition into that sport.
'It's not easy but you still have to have board skills and ultimately once you've learned how to sail the equipment, the whole premise of how to manage a campaign is the same in all the Olympic disciplines so the experience of previous Olympics will stand them him in good stead. So I'm not worried about him as an individual.'
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But while Park is convinced the Norwich sailor has all the necessary requirements in his armoury to deal with the forthcoming changes, he expressed concerns for the Nick Dempseys of the future.
He added: 'But I think there are potentially bigger challenges down the performance pathway for the RYA and particularly in the youth set-ups so we need to look at these decisions and look at the best way we can feed Olympic kiteboarding perspective.
'Ultimately, I'm disappointed for windsurfing but then excited about the fresh challenges kiteboarding brings.'
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