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Rio Silver Medallist Annalise Murphy: The Story Behind Her Olympic Dream (Video)

23rd June 2020
Annalise Murphy - Sailing's Rio Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy - Sailing's Rio Olympic silver medalist

What’s behind your Olympic dream? That’s the question that the Olympic Federation of Ireland asked Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy in this video (below) to celebrate Olympic Day today.

Irish Sailing nominated Murphy for Tokyo 2021 this month and Ireland's only sailor so far for Enoshima Bay gives her story as to when the seed of belief was sown, that moment when her dream became more real, and that someone who stoked the fire. 

To launch the campaign five Team Ireland Olympic Medallists share what was behind their Olympic dream. Olympic Champions Ronnie Delany (Melbourne 1956, Athletics 1500m) and Michael Carruth (Barcelona 1992, Welterweight Boxing) are joined by Olympic Silver Medallists John Treacy (Los Angeles 1984, Athletics Marathon), Kenneth Egan (Beijing 2008, Light Heavyweight Boxing) and Annalise Murphy (Rio 2016, Laser Radial) to share their stories.

Michael Carruth’s father, Austin, was the man in his corner throughout his boxing career, and is the person who inspired him to aspire for Olympic success from an early age, “I won my first fight and I gave my dad a big hug and I made a promise to my dad, I said I’m going to win the Olympics, for you first, and for Ireland second.”

Ronnie Delany’s coach Jumbo Elliott helped him make his career-defining decision to switch to the 1500m, “The person who made the most difference was Jumbo Elliott. He paternally put an arm around my shoulder and said son, some day you will be a great miler. Now I had never run a mile at this stage. He said Ronnie run a mile when you get home.”

Throughout the day Olympians and elite athletes will be sharing the stories behind their dreams on social media using the hashtags #TeamIreland, #OlympicDay and #BehindTheDreams.

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Annalise Murphy Olympic Silver Medalist

The National Yacht Club's Annalise Murphy (born 1 February 1990) is a Dublin Bay sailor who won a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is a native of Rathfarnham, a suburb of Dublin.

Murphy competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the Women's Laser Radial class. She won her first four days of sailing at the London Olympics and, on the fifth day, came in 8th and 19th position.

They were results that catapulted her on to the international stage but those within the tiny sport of Irish sailing already knew her of world-class capability in a breeze and were not surprised.

On the sixth day of the competition, she came 2nd and 10th and slipped down to second, just one point behind the Belgian world number one.

Annalise was a strong contender for the gold medal but in the medal race, she was overtaken on the final leg by her competitors and finished in 4th, her personal best at a world-class regatta and Ireland's best Olympic class result in 30 years.

Radial European Gold

Murphy won her first major medal at an international event the following year on home waters when she won gold at the 2013 European Sailing Championships on Dublin Bay.

Typically, her track record continues to show that she performs best in strong breezes that suit her large stature (height: 1.86 m Weight: 72 kg).

She had many international successes on her road to Rio 2016 but also some serious setbacks including a silver fleet finish in flukey winds at the world championships in the April of Olympic year itself.

Olympic Silver Medal

On 16 August 2016, Murphy won the silver medal in the Laser Radial at the 2016 Summer Olympics defying many who said her weight and size would go against her in Rio's light winds.

As Irish Times Sailing Correspondent David O'Brien pointed out: " [The medal] was made all the more significant because her string of consistent results was achieved in a variety of conditions, the hallmark of a great sailor. The medal race itself was a sailing master class by the Dubliner in some decidedly fickle conditions under Sugarloaf mountain".

It was true that her eight-year voyage ended with a silver lining but even then Murphy was plotting to go one better in Tokyo four years later.

Sportswoman of the Year

In December 2016, she was honoured as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland 2016 Sportswoman of the Year.

In March, 2017, Annalise Murphy was chosen as the grand marshal of the Dublin St Patrick's day parade in recognition of her achievement at the Rio Olympics.

She became the Female World Champion at the Moth Worlds in July 2017 in Italy but it came at a high price for the Olympic Silver medallist. A violent capsize in the last race caused her to sustain a knee injury which subsequent scans revealed to be serious. 

Volvo Ocean Race

The injury was a blow for her return to the Olympic Laser Radial discipline and she withdrew from the 2017 World Championships. But, later that August, to the surprise of many, Murphy put her Tokyo 2020 ambitions on hold for a Volvo Ocean Race crew spot and joined Dee Caffari’s new Turn the Tide On Plastic team that would ultimately finish sixth from seventh overall in a global circumnavigation odyssey.

Quits Radial for 49erFX

There were further raised eyebrows nine months later when, during a break in Volvo Ocean Race proceedings, in May 2018 Murphy announced she was quitting the Laser Radial dinghy and was launching a 49er FX campaign for Tokyo 2020. Critics said she had left too little time to get up to speed for Tokyo in a new double-handed class.

After a 'hugely challenging' fourteen months for Murphy and her crew Katie Tingle, it was decided after the 2019 summer season that their 'Olympic medal goal' was no longer realistic, and the campaign came to an end. Murphy saying in interviews “I guess the World Cup in Japan was a bit of a wakeup call for me, I was unable to see a medal in less than twelve months and that was always the goal".

The pair raced in just six major regattas in a six-month timeframe. 

Return to Radial

In September 2019, Murphy returned to the Laser Radial dinghy and lead a four-way trial for the Tokyo 2020 Irish Olympic spot after the first of three trials when she finished 12th at the Melbourne World Championships in February 2020.

Selection for Tokyo 2021

On June 11, Irish Sailing announced Annalise Murphy had been nominated in the Laser Radial to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Murphy secured the Laser Radial nomination after the conclusion of a cut short trials in which rivals Aoife Hopkins, Aisling Keller and Eve McMahon also competed.

At A Glance – Annalise Murphy Significant Results

2016: Summer Olympics, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Silver

2013: European Championships, Dublin, Ireland – Gold

2012: Summer Olympics, London, UK – 4th

2011: World Championships, Perth, Australia – 6th

2010: Skandia Sail for Gold regatta – 10th

2010: Became the first woman to win the Irish National Championships.

2009: World Championships – 8th

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