Sailors strike gold
COLIN Harrison achieved his ultimate sailing goal after winning a gold medal for sailing at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games.
Harrison, sailing in the Sonar class with crew mates Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden, won gold with a race to spare.
It was the fourth Paralympics that skipper Harrison (55) had competed in, and the closest he had previously gone to winning a medal was at the 2008 Beijing Games with a bronze.
Harrison praised the crew’s coach Grant Alderson, saying he was their secret weapon.
“It was just a matter of time before he gave us that little edge that we needed to get from the bottom of the podium to the top of the podium,” he said.
“The skill, knowledge and experience he had racing Flying Fifteen boats at the very highest level has really helped us to achieve our goal.”
The Sonar crew, close friends whose chemistry has flourished since they began racing together in 2013, said they had received “heaps of messages” from back home after ensuring their first Paralympic gold medal before the final day.
The crew had sailed so well during the 11-race series against 13 other boats that they had wrapped up the goldmedal win before the last race.
Harrison said the feeling to receive his medal on the podium was almost indescribable.
“My hair was standing up on the back of my neck and our team was in the middle of the podium and the other teams were on the outside where we often were,” he said.
“Just that feeling of ‘we’ve finally done it’ and this is the biggest event, it was just an unreal feeling.
“It didn’t get any better than that; you can’t get a better result than gold at the games.”
The team had been training for about three and a half years to be in the best possible physical and mental con- dition to tackle the games.
Harrison said they were confident they could do well following a run of success in the lead-up to the event.
“Since London in 2012 we had been on the podium in nearly every competition, including World Cup and world championship events,” he said.
“We had beaten everybody out there at some stage but the challenge with the games is to sail your best regatta at that event and to sail it better than anyone else.”
Harrison will retire from international competition and concentrate on teaching and coaching sailing.
“I’m going to bask in the glory for a while, but after that I’d like to focus on helping others and giving back to the sport that has given me so much.”
He is a member of the Royal Perth Yacht Club and trains at Fremantle and Crawley.
Jonathan Harris, Colin Harrison (also below) and Russell Boaden celebrate winning gold on their Sonar yacht.