Burton defends Laser title for Australia
17 Aug 2016
Australia’s Tom Burton turned in one of the greatest Olympic sailing performances to win Australia’s seventh gold at the Rio Olympics.
Burton needed to finish five places ahead of leader – Croatian Tonci Stipanovic – to win gold heading into the medal race and managed a third place, well ahead of the Croatian.
Burton overcame his rival’s efforts to keep him at the rear of the field and as the race went on, he left the Croatian in his wake.
Burton's triumph was Australia's first sailing gold in the Rio Games and came on the same day cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin won silver in the Nacra 17 mixed race.
Burton spoke to his coach about his chances of winning gold before the race.
"I said 'so if I had to do this 10 times, how many times do you think I'd pull it off?' and he said 'two and a half’,” Burton said.
“But I said 'more like one' and he said 'yeah, one is all you need'.
"And that's exactly right – I went for it and I got it."
After the early manoeuvring between Burton and Stipanovic, the pair was left ninth and tenth respectively leaving Burton to make up the five spots needed for Olympic gold.
“It feels great to win gold”, he said.
“The percentage chance I thought that I could win the gold was pretty slim.
“Halfway up the first beat I thought it’s a possibility now (but) obviously there were a lot of boats to pass, that was all going through my mind.
“The amount of hours I have put into this, the sacrifices I have made; not going to my sister’s wedding, skipping the Opening Ceremony to try and get a good result and it’s all perfect now.”
Darmanin and Waterhouse sailed brilliantly to climb from fourth place to second in Nacra 17 mixed race and were beaten by just one point by Argentina for gold.
“We wanted that gold but we sailed an incredible medal race,” said Darmanin.
“I don’t think we could have done much more out there and to come home with a silver medal.”
A couple more Aussies narrowly missed a podium finish, discus thrower Dani Samuels and kayaker Murray Stewart finishing fourth in their respective finals.