HE­ROES ON HAMO

Olympic sailors wel­comed home by Whit­sun­day pa­rade

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Car­ruthers

HAMIL­TON Is­land was one of the first ports of call for the Aus­tralian Olympic sail­ing team after ar­riv­ing home from Rio de Janeiro.

The tra­di­tional ticker-tape pa­rade along Front St was led by Hamil­ton Is­land school­child­ren hold­ing painted signs that wel­comed their sail­ing he­roes.

Well-wish­ers threw stream­ers from build­ings and cheered as the pro­ces­sion made its way through the vil­lage.

Gold medal­list Tom Bur­ton was rid­ing in the lead car with sil­ver-win­ning team­mates Ja­son Water­house and Lisa Dar­manin.

He said he was happy to be back home in Aus­tralia and was on cloud nine after his re­turn from Rio.

“Oh, it’s great you know,” he said.

“We have had a few re­cep­tions but this is the biggest com­mu­nity of sailors.

“It’s great to see so see so many keen sailors sup­port­ing us and hear­ing about how they watched us race.”

Bur­ton made the point it was nice to be re­ceived by a crowd who knew sail­ing and a com­mu­nity that held sk­il­ful sailors in the high­est re­gard.

“Peo­ple al­ways watch the Olympics but there is a large part of those peo­ple that don’t know much about sail­ing,” he said.

“It’s great to talk to peo­ple who know about sail­ing, so you can talk about tac­tics and let them give their in­put about what they were think­ing.

“It’s great to be amongst sailors.”

On day 11 of the Games, Bur­ton needed to fin­ish in the top three to win gold from Croa­t­ian sailor Tonci Sti­panovic.

Bur­ton said he needed to move up one spot to clinch vic­tory, and he did.

Bur­ton fin­ished third to claim gold, Sti­panovic won sil­ver, and New Zealand’s Sam Meech got bronze.

Tom Slingsby’s gold medal at the Lon­don Olympic Games in 2012 and the ef­fort by Bur­ton con­sol­i­dates Aus­tralia’s po­si­tion at the top of the in­ter­na­tional Laser sail­ing stand­ings.

Ja­son Water­house and Lisa Dar­manin were not left out of the medal cel­e­bra­tions in Rio, claim­ing sil­ver in the Nacra 17 medal race.

The pair fin­ished sec­ond in the medal race and sec­ond over­all after Ar­gentina’s San­ti­ago Lange and Ce­cilia Seroli over­came a bad start to claim gold.

The achieve­ments of the whole Aus­tralian sail­ing team were cel­e­brated in a car­ni­val-like at­mos­phere.

Many sailors com­pet­ing in the fourth day of Hamil­ton Is­land Race Week barely had time to wipe the salt wa­ter from their faces be­fore the sign­ing of au­to­graphs and the party that fol­lowed.

PHO­TOS: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

HOORAY: A se­lec­tion of pho­tos from Fri­day’s ticker-tape pa­rade.

PHOTO: PETER CAR­RUTHERS

SAIL­ING HE­ROES: Hamil­ton Is­land wel­comes the Aus­tralian Olympic sail­ing team on Fri­day af­ter­noon. IN­SET: Adam Sin­gle­ton and gold medal­list Tom Bur­ton.

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