Olympics prove rough sailing for local

David Wright sits in 21st place as of press time with two races to go

Despite this being his first Olympic Games, David Wright is not making excuses for being at the back of the pack in Laser sailing.

“I haven’t been performing terribly, but I haven’t as well as I expected or hoped,” said Wright.

“I was fifth at the Europeans three weeks ago, and 15th in the worlds,” said Wright. “You just do your best in every race and see what comes up.”

Wright is still pushing to finish high, aiming for a top 10 finish. His sixth place finish, in the eighth race of 10 of the London Laser event, was his best finish of the Games. As of press time he is still 21st overall with only two races to go.

Wright has encountered hitches in this tournament, including a yellow flag penalty in his fifth race.

“He made a mistake and capsized,” Wright’s coach Erik Stibbe said. “He was in eighth, and he jumped back to the 20s, [but] he managed to come back to 14th.”

At 30 years old, Wright has been chomping at the bit to compete at the Olympics. With only one spot for Laser sailing for each competing country, Wright came up short in 2008.

But, he hardened his resolve to compete in London.

As a result, Wright won the 2008 Laser North American Championships in dominant fashion. He also placed sixth at the 2009 World Championship in Halifax — the second Canadian to place in the top 10 since 1996.

In 2012, his 15th place finish at the worlds and his podium finish at a regatta in Miami helped him clinch a spot for London.

“It’s always very good to get tough trials,” said Stibbe, who noted Wright’s talent and resolve. “You’re under a lot of pressure, [which is] what normally happens at the Games.”

Councillor Josh Matlow, who has been following his performance in London, recognized his hard work.

“I got an out-of-the-blue phone call from him,” said Wright, who met with him previously. “I’m sure that he’s a very busy man, but for him just an interest” was great.

In the end, a podium finish was the goal for Wright and his coach.

“You don’t go to the Games to participate,” said Stibbe. “I know it’s against the spirit of the Games, but you don’t work for 12 years or whatever how long it is to just participate.”

Away from the water, Wright’s first Olympic experience, especially walking with his country during the Opening Ceremonies, has been incredibly memorable.

“Once you get in the water, it’s really not a whole lot different than another event we do, other than there’s a lot more flags and helicopters flying around,” he said.

Once the Games are over, Wright will reflect on his performance. He is considering a switch to another sailing specialty for the next Games — possibly in a vessel with one or more teammates.

“There’s no shoo-in [for Olympic success] for sure,” said Wright. “If you want to win at the Olympics, every class is very hard to get to the front.

“I’d just be looking to make a change based on what my strengths are, if I can be more successful at that.”

About this article:

By: Perry King
Posted: Aug 23 2012 7:29 pm
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto