Looking back on the Rio Olympics

Published on August 12th, 2020

Four years ago, Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck was in Brazil to report on the Rio 2016 Olympics. With the Tokyo 2020 Games postponed until 2021, we keep that Olympic Flame alive through Leweck’s observations from the Carioca nation… here was his eighth report:

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 14, 2016) – Sarah (Webb) Gosling, a double gold medalist for Great Britain, is scene scurrying about the Sailing venue at the Rio Olympics. In her role as Chair of the Athletes Commission for World Sailing, she is at the Games to ensure the athletes have the best experience possible.

“I am here to look after the athletes now currently competing,” explains Gosling. “I am in discussion with people, getting a feel of the boat park to understand how the event is working for them. I am gathering all the information, sorting it as needed so it can be brought up the ladder as needed. I am also connecting with people to join the commission to ensure we stay strong in numbers.”

There is a lot going on at the Games, and conflicts are inevitable. “Our sport is imperfect, but if I can be an advocate for the athletes during their competition, to help rectify any issues, then I see that as a victory for everyone,” notes Gosling. “I am connecting with all forms of the event administration, to understand situations and, if possible, work in the background to help resolve concerns if needed.”

While the Commission has been going for some time, it is relatively young in its ability to affect change. However, at the World Sailing mid-year meeting last May, it was given a seat on the Board, which is a full voting position. Prior to that, its role was more advisory, so it is a significant step now to directly impact decisions.

Gosling has seen the Games evolve, particularly with media. “We are wary of the influence of the media, and how television considerations can impact when we sail,” admits Gosling. “We don’t want to compromise the quality of competition, but at the same time, we as athletes need to improve the media presence for our sport. If that means we have to compete when the conditions are a bit tricky, than that’s what we might need to do.”

The goal of the Medal Race, which is to provide a spectator-friendly course, has had its objectors. “Everyone said at the 2012 Games that the Medal Race course was too hard, too variable,” shared Gosling. “And here we are, four years later, and the Medal Race course in Rio is a step harder. But during this time, the athletes get better and better at adapting to this type of racing. As long as the racing is fair, than I am happy with the direction we are headed.”

With mostly sterling weather, Rio has delivered as expected. “The athletes knew it would be challenging, and it has been proven to be that,” remarked Gosling. “No one has been surprised. But what has really been important is how well our sport has shown here.

“We have taken countless people out on the water to spectate, from the International Olympic Committee and beyond, to show what we are doing. The sentiment is always positive, finding our sport amazing. We are outside, taking advantage of such a scenic arena. It really sets our sport apart, which is partly why we all enjoy it so much.”

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Racing was staggered among the 10 events from August 8 to 19.

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