Windsurfing honours go to French and Dutch sailors
France’s Charline Picon emerged victorious from a close-fought medal race in the women’s RS:X class sailing, while in the men’s event the gold went to Van Rijsselberghe of Netherlands.
Picon had to be at her determined best on the waters of Pao de Acucar to hold off the challenge of eventual silver medallist Chen Peina of China. “It was such a hard race,” she commented. “The hardest of my life because the Chinese sailor was so close to me and I had to fight until the line.”
Chen, who was making her Olympic debut, was delighted to land the silver. "Before the competition started I think everyone had a chance to win, including me, so I am very happy to have got a medal."
“I’m really happy for what I have achieved. I have worked very hard for this so I am delighted with the result of all the effort I've put in."
The bronze went to the event’s youngest competitor, 19-year-old Stefaniya Elfutina of Russia, who was a surprise contender for the podium spots. “I’m really happy right now, but everything is going so fast since I got out of the water I have not taken it in yet.”
"I’m just happy I got a medal, I didn’t think about my age; I was just competing and when you’re in the water everybody is the same, added the Olympic debutant who vowed to be back in for years to challenge for another medal.
Great Dane Van Rijsselberghe wins men’s gold
In the men’s RS:X event, gold went to Dutch windsurfer Dorian Van Rijsselberghe. He had confirmed his position at the top of the podium by winning the medal race. Pre-event favourite Nick Dempsey of Great Britain had to settle for silver, as 27-year-old Frenchman Pierre Le Coq took bronze.
"I'm very happy,” said the winner on clinching the title. “We had a wonderful week sailing and today it was only a kind of show, but I'm glad that I pulled off another first place and another win. It's never easy, but when you make it look easy, that’s always good! It's a huge thing of course – and after all of the support [friends and family] put in, they can see it has paid off.”
Meanwhile, Dempsey, a silver medallist in London four years earlier, and the most medalled windsurfer in Olympic history, shrugged off suggestions that anything less than gold was a disappointment.
“No, never! You know I’ve trained hard over the last four years and I’ve given it everything I had. I couldn’t ask anything more of myself. I was only good enough for second here and I’m very happy.”
He also heaped praise on the organisers of the Rio Games. “Every Olympics is different. London Olympics was special, it was a home Olympics, but this place has got some special memories for me. The weather has been fantastic, the racing conditions unbelievable. We’ve had a superb sailing Olympic Games,” he enthused.
Bronze medallist Le Coq described winning bronze as “a life achievement. I was dreaming about this since a long time ago and I just want to enjoy it and celebrate it with my family and friends.”