Annalise Murphy opens up about how close she came to giving up before her Olympic medal success

Women's Laser Radial medalist chats to Cliona Foley on Newstalk's Off The Bench podcast

Annalise Murphy

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson 

Annalise Murphy says there were times she considered giving up competitive sailing before persevering to secure her success at Rio 2016.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the Women's Laser Radial was this year's Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year and she joined Cliona Foley on the Off The Bench podcast to reflect on a year that she will never forget - especially after the pain of just missing out on a medal at London 2012. 

"I had a fantastic 2013 where my biggest disappointment was that I was winning one of the World Cup events and made a mess of the last day and finished fourth again which I was a little bit pissed off with," said Murphy of a year that saw her ranked second in the world.

"Everything was going well for me and then I just had a couple of bad events, lost a bit of confidence and wasn't sailing as well as I wanted to in that first half of 2014. But then I had a pretty good second half to 2014. I qualified for the Olympics and I finished 10th at a Rio test event in 2015."

You can listen to the full interview on the podcast player and on iTunes:

However a disappointing European Championships in summer 2015 "knocked her confidence" before a Rio test event, 12 months before the Olympics.

"I was terrified if I didn't win a medal there one year out, that that was going to be it," she said. 

"And it just went disastrously. I went out on the first day, came last in both races. I was actually coming second last in the second race and I thought 'at least I'm not going to finish last in both races'".

Unfortunately she did finish last in that second race and admitted that she was "heartbroken" and "so upset" afterwards as results failed to emerge.

Along with other things, it even progressed to a point when Murphy considered giving it all up.

"I was just pretty upset because I just felt like Rio was so close and I was just never going to be competitive at it and that was probably the moment when I was like maybe I should kick it in now and not bother going [to the Olympics]," she said, adding that it was something she contemplated "many times" over the last year prior to the Games. 

"I would consider it and my family were really supportive, particularly my Mum. She said 'The Olympics don't matter, it's you that matters. No one's going to mind if you want to give up. That's going to be fine'. I would think about it for a few minute and then I'd wake up the next morning more determined and wanting to keep on going." 

However, all the effort paid off as she won silver at the Games. 

Due to the exhaustion after a taxing event physically and mentally, getting into the full swing of celebrations on the night she won her silver medal wasn't fully possible.

"When I finished competing my sailing event, it was meant to go on for eight days but ended up going on for nine days because we had that cancellation on that day," she said.

"So my diet and my training had been so strict and then I'd raced for these eight and nine days so I was exhausted. And then I won my medal and I was so happy. But then I went out to Rio with my whole family and all the other Irish supporters who had been out on the beach that day to celebrate and I was just wrecked. I was so tired.

"My Mum was having a great night, spraying champagne all over people and dancing on a bar."

And she described as "overwhelmed" by the celebrations in Dun Laoghaire after returning to Irish shores after the Games.