Dorian van Rijsselberge: My Best Olympic Race

Published on June 20th, 2016

World Sailing looks back at some of the great Olympic sailing moments during the build up to the Rio 2016 Games. This report focuses on Dorian van Rijsselberge and how we can all achieve something…

When a clearly defined goal is set and subsequently achieved, the sense of satisfaction is immense. Reaching an accomplishment can take a matter of days, months or even years but many know what it takes.

Tying your shoe laces for the first time as a young child is an achievement, playing your first note on a guitar, getting those grades to get into college or delivering a knockout presentation to seal a deal. We’ve all been there.

Many perceive picking up an Olympic gold medal as the ultimate achievement, but for Dorian van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands, we’ve all achieved something great.

During a World Sailing interview, the Dutchman was asked, “What does it feel like to win an Olympic gold medal? I’ve never done it, so I don’t know what it feels like, just explain it.”

Without hesitation the Dutchman replied, “It’s funny that you say you don’t know what it feels like. But you actually do know what it feels like because it’s the satisfaction of achieving a goal that you set a couple of years before.

“Everybody can know what it feels like to win a gold medal but it’s just called something different. It’s a really nice feeling and intense satisfaction.”

That statement is one that can quickly be related to. Everybody has achieved something in their life that has given them a sense of well-being and accomplishment. For Van Rijsselberge, his moment of glory was played out in the eyes of millions at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Sailing in the Men’s RS:X out of Weymouth and Portland, the Dutch racer’s years of hard work paid off as he won an Olympic gold medal with two races spare.

Van Rijsselberge won seven of the 11 races at London 2012 to complete a 26-point victory over Nick Dempsey, Great Britain’s gold medal hopeful.

With so much success across the week, could his best Olympic race be the one where the heat was on? Could it be the one where he knew he could seal the deal? To put it simply, no, his best race was when the pressure was off and he could enjoy his trade.

“My most memorable race at London 2012 was most definitely the Medal Race. I really enjoyed that one, it was light planing with the best guys in the world racing around the course. It was more or a less a little victory lap for me but at the same time you still want to race and show everybody you’re up there.

“I made a mistake during the race, I didn’t see the course change and I was just so caught up in the moment and Julien [Bontemps of France] managed to sneak by me and I had to catch up again and try to beat him towards the finish. It was a little bit exciting.”

Van Rijsselberge breezed by Bontemps to take the win and complete one of the stand out victories at London 2012. Near faultless all week, Van Rijsselberge felt comfortable in his surroundings which culminated in his performance.

He concluded, “I think the secret for me was that I felt at home [in Weymouth and Portland]. It was a second home and it just suited me really well with how I’m built and with my mind set. We just spent a lot of time there and tried to become the locals.”

The Dutchman has his ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games booked and will, once again, be one of the favourites for glory.

Source: Daniel Smith – World Sailing

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