PAUL Goodison admits he is desperate to repeat his Beijing 2008 heroics with a gold medal-winning performance on home waters in front of his parents, as he gets his London 2012 campaign underway at Weymouth and Portland today.
Defending Laser class champion Goodison, 34, is one of three classes that start racing on day two of the Olympic Regatta with Portland debutant Alison Young in the Laser Radial and the 49er duo of Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, the other two.
Only Goodison’s mum, Cynthia, made it out to China to see his first Olympic crown with a clinical display in the men’s one-person dinghy class four years ago. But this time around his dad Roy, as well as several other members of the Goodison clan, will be making the trip from South Yorkshire to Weymouth and Portland.
The Weymouth sailor can’t wait to start putting four years of toil and meticulous preparation into practice to try to achieve the ultimate goal of home success.
He said: “This campaign really is all about winning in home waters. Mum and dad came to Athens. Only my Mum made it out to Beijing but they are all going to be in Weymouth shouting for me and I want to do it for them.
“During the medal ceremony [in Beijing] I was looking into the crowd and I couldn’t see anything apart from Mum, who was there crying her eyes out, which wasn’t helping me at all as I was stood on the podium trying to compose myself! I could just think of my Dad being at home and just wished that he could have been there to share the experience with us all.
“I need to win a gold medal [to be satisfied]. Once you’ve achieved those heights nothing else is satisfactory. It’s going to be a really tough job, there’s going to be a lot of competition but I really feel that I can do it”.
RYA Olympic manager, Stephen Park, has described Young, as potentially the “dark horse of this Olympic Games” after the 25-year-old’s performances over the past year propelled her not only into the British Sailing Team for London 2012, but also put her firmly among the Olympic medal reckoning.
Young was one of the final sailors to be selected for Team GB in May and immediately justified the nod with a career-best fourth at the 2012 World Championships in Germany before she won her first ever senior World Cup event, Sail for Gold Regatta, against all her main Olympic rivals, at the Olympic venue in June.
Now she is ready to announce herself on the biggest sporting stage of them all. She said: “Aim to win because there’s no point setting your standards lower and then just do what you can to achieve that. Do your best and if best is good enough to win, great.
“There are a few girls who have been consistently in the medals in the last year or so, including the Dutch girl, Marit Bouwmeester, Belgium’s Evie Van Acker and, Lijia Xu, the Chinese Beijing 2008 bronze medallist, who’s been in good form this year.
“But I’m improving all the time. This year I’ve come fourth at the Worlds and won Sail for Gold but I’m still moving forward, still progressing and becoming more of an all-rounder and Weymouth is an all-round venue. I’ve got as good a chance as anybody. Somebody’s got to win and I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t be me.”
Meanwhile, the 49er pair of Morrison and Rhodes will start their London 2012 with a little help from a very famous friend.
Sir Paul McCartney has sent a personal good luck message to the boys after they named their 49er boat ‘Lovely Rita’ in homage to The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album track.
The musical legend’s message read “Wishing you the very best of luck on the ‘Lovely Rita’ in the games. Happy sailing to you both. From someone who loves to potter about on his little Sunfish.”
Morrison admits it was an incredible surprise. He said: “The Beatles are the greatest ever band in the world – certainly from Britain – and hopefully we can be the best ever 49er sailors from Britain by winning the gold medal, so we’re looking to emulate what they achieved in their field on our field. He’s a genuine legend – he’s right up there – so that was really cool, if a touch surreal.
“It was really great, but none of it means anything unless we can go out there and do the best we can do, and as long as we can come away from this event feeling like we’ve done the best we could have done then we’ll be happy.”
* Racing is scheduled to get underway at noon, with the Lasers and Laser Radials on the Weymouth Bay South course and the 49ers on the Nothe course.