Rathfarnham’s Annalise Murphy is amongst an exclusive list of Irish athletes to have ever won a medal for Team Ireland at an Olympic Games. Murphy is competing in her third Olympics having previously competed both in London 2012 and Rio 2016.
In London 2012, the National Yacht Club sailor came agonisingly close to a podium finish as she finished fourth. In Rio 2016, Murphy avenged her disappointment as she put her London 2012 heartbreak to rest by claiming silver.
Speaking to RTÉ afterwards, an emotional Murphy was over the moon.
Speaking after her silver medal, Murphy said, “This time four years ago I finished fourth and it was the hardest day of my life. I said I was going to come back and try to get a medal. So to actually go and do it is incredible. I’m so happy.”
Since Rio, Murphy took a four-year hiatus that included a stint in the Volvo Ocean Race.
“I’ve had an unconventional cycle in this campaign, Murphy said after the Sail Melbourne International in 2020 “I did two full four year campaigns in the Laser Radial for London and Rio and I really needed a break and do something different after the Rio Olympics so I ended up doing the Volvo Ocean Race on “Turn the Tide of Plastic” and then I decided I wanted to sail a 49erFX which I did for 14 months. But I stopped after the Olympic Test Event last year to get back into the Radial to see if I could have a shot at getting another medal.”
With vast Olympic experience under her belt, Murphy is prepared for all possibilities. The Dublin native used lockdown to completely cut out any distractions and focus on the now. It wasn’t all plain sailing though and like everyone, Murphy lost motivation at times.
“Having the focus to just train, particularly during the lockdowns was really good. It gave me something to do each day. I worked on all the small things that I hadn’t had time to do over the years.
Then, I got to October and was like, I can’t believe I have to keep on going until next August! I definitely lost some motivation there.
I was out mountain biking and I fully mangled myself on my mountain bike. I broke my nose and like completely cut my whole face, hands and elbows. I think it was the wake up call I needed.
I told myself, ‘You’re really lucky you didn’t really hurt yourself.’ It was exactly I needed to say to myself like ‘Okay switch back on and refocus’.
Sailing is in Murphy’s blood. Her mother, Cathy McAleavey competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. She was one half of half of Ireland’s crew in the 470 class. This was the first-ever women’s sailing event in the history of the Olympic Games. Murphy’s Dad, Con Muprhy, coached Cathy and was a great sailor himself. Not to mention Annalise’s elder sister Claudine, also sailed!
Family is everything for the Rio 2016 Silver medallist. They have been her biggest supporters throughout her sailing career. Even though they will not be there in Tokyo with her, they will definitely be watching and cheering on at home.
“I’m disappointed that they aren’t going to be there in Japan, but they’re all pretty excited and will be cheering me on.”
Already a silver medalist at the Olympic Games. Does Murphy still have the same dreams of winning another medal?
“I think you dream about getting to the Olympics and winning Olympic medals, Murphy said.
“I definitely daydream about it every time. But I also know that I can’t just be like, you know the Will Farrell quote from Blades of Glory – ‘If you can dream it you can do it’. You do have to actually race 11 races to actually get to that point.
“So I’m just going to focus on boat speed, race strategy and try to sail a really good series. At the end of the day I need to sail really well and my closest competitors need to make some mistakes.”