September 17, 2016 - Helena Lucas consolidated her position as Britain’s most successful sailing Paralympian, but was left wondering what might have been after winning Rio 2016 2.4mR class bronze today (Saturday 17 September). Lucas secured her second successive Paralympic podium finish having won gold at her home Games four years ago.
But she couldn’t hide her disappointment at not being able to defend her title having gone into today’s final race of the event leading overall, only to end the race in 15th place, as Damien Seguin (FRA) sailed to gold and Matt Bugg (AUS) took silver.
After crossing the line, Lucas discovered that her boat speed had been hindered by a plastic bag, which had got caught on her rudder. But despite her frustration, the Brit was proud that she had been able to give it her best shot and still claim the final spot on the podium.
Lucas’ medal, along with Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell’s bronze in the SKUD18, means that the British Sailing Team has achieved its pre-Rio target of two medals.
Lucas said: “It was an absolute fight in the mix, I couldn’t break out or break free no matter what I did. I kept thinking I was doing the right thing and getting the shifts right but I didn’t have the speed I’ve had all week because I was towing a bag.
“I came in to this event with my eyes wide open and I thought there would be six of us in contention for the medals so when everything settles down a bit I will be happy I’m on the podium because it is such a competitive fleet. I’ll let the dust settle and be happy with a medal. I did give it my best.”
Before today Lucas had sailed with the consistency befitting of the Paralympic podium, with a race four disqualification the only blip on an otherwise impressive scorecard, which included two race wins and no score outside the top five.
But that disqualification ultimately proved costly as Seguin, who previously won gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 silver, was discarding a lower score of sixth, leaving Lucas with no margin for error in today’s winner takes all showdown.
Nevertheless the 41-year-old insists she cannot be overly disappointed to now have Paralympic gold and bronze medals to her name.
Lucas added: “I would not switch that gold medal in London for anything, it was so unique and you are never going to get the chance to compete at your home Games ever again in a lifetime. To win gold there was always going to be the ultimate highlight of my sailing career.
“It’s really disappointing not to have got gold here, having been wearing yellow four out of the six days we have been racing. But it’s been one of those regattas; Damien has been so consistent and has put in a really solid performance whereas myself and Matt made ourselves a little bit vulnerable with our discards. I’ve got my gold medal, I will just have a bronze one instead. You just wonder what could have been.”
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