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Tokyo 2020 – Day 7 – A brilliant bronze for Wilson

Written by 31st July 2021 Featured-post, Tokyo 2020

© Sailing Energy / World Sailing

Emma Wilson has won Britain’s first sailing medal at Tokyo 2020. Emma Wilson becomes only the second British female windsurfer to win an Olympic medal. Emma Wilson has won an Olympic bronze medal.

Whatever way you say it, it’s impressive and very exciting.

Emma went into Tokyo 2020 as the British windsurfing prodigy, the daughter of two-time Olympian Penny Wilson (nee Way).

There was a quiet expectation on Emma who has won multiple junior and youth world titles, and for a 22-year-old that could lead to pressure to perform at a debut Olympic Games. Emma herself was even starting to think she was going to be a perennial fourth place finisher. She admitted after that she was ‘sick of it’.

However, anyone who has been in contact with Emma in Japan has commented about how calm she has been, how she is taking everything in her stride and just enjoying the moment.

Emma certainly can enjoy her moment. What a way to get that fourth-place monkey off your back!

Going into medal race she needed to put a boat between herself and leader Lu from China. She needed to beat the Rio 2016 champion Charline Picon from France. A tough ask.

Emma sailed brilliantly in the medal race coming back from behind by picking the opposite side of the course to her rivals – a risky move. A move that paid off though from the position she was in.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as Picon crossed for a race win. Emma was ahead of Lu in second but the top three were the top three for a reason. No one could get in between Lu and Emma.

No matter what happened, Emma had guaranteed herself a medal before the race, and she fully deserved it. She was an Olympic medallist taking bronze.

Her male counterpart Tom Squires had been performing well all regatta in a very tough RS:X fleet. He was excelling in his favoured strong winds, and pulling out some good results in the light winds that he knows he struggles in.

Tom was in with a shot at a medal, but it was one light race too far. At 4-6 knots the wind gods weren’t on Tom’s side. He finished seventh in the medal race and seventh overall in what was a brilliant Olympic debut.

In the 49er, Dylan Fletcher and Stu Bithell put together three good races to finish fleet racing in second overall.

First mission complete: make the medal race with a shot at the podium.

The next mission is going to be an intriguing one as it’s super tight at the top. They are four points behind the sailing mega stars Burling and Tuke. They are equal on points with Spain in third. But they do have a 10-point buffer back to fourth. It’s all eyes on the Monday medal race!

Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey have also made the medal race in the 49erFX. They are sitting fifth after racing in some very tough light race conditions. A fourth place was sandwiched by two mid-ten results – but they have given themselves a shot at a medal.

Giles Scott notched up another win in the Finn to maintain his position at the top of the fleet. He has two more fleet races tomorrow to exert some more dominance before taking on the medal race.

In the Nacra 17, John Gimson and Anna Burnet are also ticking along nicely. They also took a race win and it helps keep them in second behind the Italian team with six points between them.

The 49ers and 49erFX now have a rest day before their medal races on Monday. Ali Young is in medal race action tomorrow in the Radial while the 470s return to the water with the Finn and Nacra 17.

WHAT THEY SAID:

RS:X Women
Emma Wilson, 22, from Christchurch, Dorset, said:

“Those were so physical those conditions. I gave it absolutely everything and, in the end, I came third, but still it was amazing to get a medal and I’m super, super happy.

“My tactics were just to give it absolutely everything and there wasn’t too much I could do, as it was a three-way battle so on the second lap, I just emptied my body and I got second in the race and came third overall but I’m super, super happy. I’ve come fourth so many times and it means so much to finally make it to the podium at the Olympics – it’s a good time.

“My Mum has been a big influence, but also there’s so many other people as well like my coach Barry and my family, his family, my training partners, I mean everyone has just given so much and I just have to thank so many people. The medal’s not just for me but for everyone else as well.

“Crossing the line was amazing, I just enjoyed the moment and you can tell us three were so close even in the medal race so just to get a medal well was amazing. I didn’t look back. I knew with the French girl ahead of me, it was whoever beat who, but I mean second in the medal race I couldn’t have done much more. I’m so tired now.

“I think of course you want to win a gold medal, but I’ve got many more years to come so I hope I’ll be back, but for now I’m just going to enjoy the moment. Not many people get a medal at the Olympics, so I just have to be so grateful and happy.

“I guess I was just so sick of coming fourth, but I knew what that felt like so it couldn’t get much worse than that. I just keep smiling, enjoying the moment and I didn’t feel too much pressure because just to be at the Olympics is amazing. I’m really proud of the way I approached it.

“I know my Mum didn’t enjoy the Olympics, so for me to enjoy it was important. I think that she actually had a lot of pressure as she was triple world champion leading into it and that’s always going to be hard, but I was just a little annoying one coming fourth, so I didn’t feel that pressure.

“It’s just amazing, I’m super happy. It’s just three years until the next Olympics, so that’s very cool. This winter, windsurfing is out the Olympics, so I have to learn another new category but if I can do that and come back it would be amazing. I do hope to be back, it’s going to be weird, but I think the new category will possibly suit me as I’m tall and I think you need to be bigger for the new ones, so that’s good for me.

“But for now, I just want to enjoy this, have a rest, and just celebrate this. Now I can go celebrate with the team where we are and I hope some more of the team also get some medals. I’m looking forward to celebrating with them and then when I get home I’ll celebrate with my family and friends. I didn’t believe I’d be the first person to get a medal but it’s cool and I hope everyone else does well too.”

RS:X Men
Tom Squires, 27, from Kingston Bagpuize, Oxfordshire, said:

“We had a rest day just before today, I got a lot of reflection and really tried to give it everything. It was my weakest conditions out there and I really, really struggled for pace as well as making a bit too many mistakes on where I went, but I just hope I’ve done Team GB proud.

“I feel like I’ve given everything, so I can’t be disappointed with how far I’ve come in such a short space of time really. I really appreciate all the support back home and I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it, apart from the medal race which sucked a little bit.

“If someone had told me that I’d be in the medal race at the Olympics batting it out for a medal and being in the top ten in the world before I came out, I would’ve taken that. It just takes a while, because you’ve got so many emotions from each individual race to put together in your mind.

“In hindsight, I think I can go home and hold my head high as I’ve not made too much of a mess of it and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It’s a great opportunity to be here. There are so many stages to get here, I know the grass is always greener but I’ve loved it.

“I definitely wouldn’t be here without the National Lottery players; the funding that that’s given to athletes is incredible. It’s game changing. I come from a humble background where I don’t have the financial support of anything but myself and my parents, so I’m really lucky to have that support. People like me wouldn’t be racing at elite level without it.

“The board is now changing to the iQFOiL and I’ll probably be on that before you know it. When people say ‘are you going on holiday?’, my holidays are mostly windsurfing anyway. So I will just be straight back on the board as soon as I get home, where my friends are down in Weymouth windsurfing all the time. It’ll just be like normal, hanging out with my mates at home. They’re backing me, but it doesn’t change how I am with them or anything like that – they’re really humble, so I’m going back to normal life really.”