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Archive - Wednesday, 8 August 2012
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Weymouth's windsurfing star scoops Olympic silver medal
WEYMOUTH’S windsurfing star Nick Dempsey claimed Olympic silver for Great Britain on his home waters and declared: ‘It doesn’t get any better than this’.
ALL ABOARD: Nick Dempsey holds his son Thomas after climbing on to the Nothe to celebrate with family and friends.
Dempsey dispelled four years of heart-ache, having finished an agonising fourth at Beijing 2008, by finishing third in yesterday’s double points medal race to com fortably claim the silver medal on the waters of the town he has made his family home.
Dempsey, who is 32 on Monday, turned his fortunes around in front of family, friends and thousands of cheering spectators.
An emotional Dempsey, who has lived in Wyke Regis for 11 years with his double Olympic gold medallist wife Sarah Ayton , said he was ‘massively happy.’ Immedi-ately after the race he jumped from his coach boat and swam ashore to greet his supporters and loved ones – including his three-year-old son Thomas – at the Nothe spectator site.
Back at Portland ’s Olympic sailing venue Dempsey and his windsurfer ‘Elizabeth’ were lifted up in the air and carried ashore by his teammates.
Sarah Dempsey with sons Thomas and Oscar watch the proceedings
Dempsey said: “Without a doubt to have all my family and friends here and surrounded by such an amazing team and to do it in front of a home crowd, it doesn’t get any better.
“It’s going to take a little while to sink in but it’s amazing.”
Dempsey, who won a bronze Olympic medal at the Athens 2004 Games, went into yesterday’s double points medal race, sitting second overall, 11 points clear of German windsurfer Toni Wilhelm in bronze position and 17 points ahead of Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski who occupied fourth spot.
Dempsey knew a finish in the top nine would guarantee him a medal while silver would be his with a top six finish.
Spurred on by cheers from the home crowd, Dempsey got off to a flying start and achieved third place in the medal race.
Dutch windsurfer Dorian Van Rijsselberge, who had already wrapped up the gold medal with an unassailable lead with a day to spare, won the medal race too in a dominant performance that was dubbed ‘a lap of honour’.
French World Champion windsurfer Julien Bontemps, who was out of medal contention came second in the race, while Poland’s contender claimed the bronze medal when he finished fourth.
Dempsey said he had been ‘desperate’ to claim silver and third would have felt like ‘a disaster’.
He said: “It’s been a pretty difficult four years but I always believed I could come here and do well.
“I’m just massively relieved.”
Dempsey, who only had an hour’s sleep the night before the race, admitted it was initially hard to come to terms with the fact he was ‘racing for second’ but praised his Dutch rival, saying he was a worthy winner.
He said: “I think if I had felt like I’d really thrown it away it would’ve been harder.
“But Dorian has sailed excellently, he deserves to be where he is and that makes it easier for me rather than me losing it.”
Dempsey praised his wife who gave up her London 2012 campaign to enable him to follow his dream.
He said: “When she retired from sailing, a large part of that was so I didn’t have to compromise, basically she let me go and fully concentrate on trying to win while she looked after the kids and everything else.
“I was free to go and do as I needed.
“She’s been absolutely amazing, it was pivotal over the last four years, her letting me do that.”
Dempsey’s third medal for the British sailing team followed Ben Ainslie ’s Finn gold and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson’s Star silver on Sunday.
Now for some family time
“HAVE you finished work now daddy?”
Those were the first words three-year-old Thomas Dempsey asked his dad when he won silver on Weymouth waters.
Nick Dempsey promised his eldest son that he would return home with a medal and said it felt ‘amazing’ to have been able to have fulfilled that pledge.
Nick, who also has a five-month-old son called Oscar, said Thomas made him laugh when he asked him ‘Have you finished work now daddy?’ Nick revealed: “We just had a little chat. I was really wet and I thought he was going to complain about me making him wet.
“Then he just looked and me and said ‘Are you finished work yet daddy?’ That’s all he said: ‘Are you coming home now Daddy?’ “All my family apart from Sarah were on the Nothe, Sarah was on one of the boats. I’ve barely seen her all week!
“I’m most looking forward to going home and spending some time with the wife and kids and actually being a family again. It’s been pretty insane the last eight months.
He said: “The thing I’m most excited about is being able to live a normal life for a little while.
“Thomas loves it when I bring a medal home from an event, I promised him I’d bring him home a medal.
“It’s going to be pretty special. He will probably hang it at the end of his bed.”
The Nothe crowd erupted into cheers when Dempsey swam ashore to celebrate his success with his supporters, who were holding banners saying ‘Go Dempo!’ He said: “I wanted to go and say hello, I knew the boys were on the hill and Thomas was there and family and friends.
“These moments don’t come around often, if you can share them with your friends, why not?”