Sailors strike gold

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT -

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.

Pic­ture: Aus­tralian Par­a­lympic Com­mit­tee

Jonathan Harris, Colin Harrison (also be­low) and Rus­sell Boaden cel­e­brate win­ning gold on their Sonar yacht.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.