HEROES ON HAMO
Olympic sailors welcomed home by Whitsunday parade
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.
HOORAY: A selection of photos from Friday’s ticker-tape parade.
SAILING HEROES: Hamilton Island welcomes the Australian Olympic sailing team on Friday afternoon. INSET: Adam Singleton and gold medallist Tom Burton.