Norwich’s Nick Dempsey eyes golden prize at London Olympics
Norwich-born windsurfer Nick Dempsey hopes his record on home water will bring success as he bids for Olympic gold this summer.
Since turning 18 the 31-year-old has been based at Weymouth, where the London Olympics sailing disciplines will take place from July 29 – just under 12 months since Dempsey walked away with silver in the Olympic test event.
And the bronze medallist from the Athens Games not only believes competing somewhere he knows so well can help him turn a practice second into a golden day on August 7, but that his past performances are a guide to what he can achieve in the summer.
“Yes, absolutely – everything else is kind of irrelevant,” said Dempsey, who also won the World Championships at Weymouth in 2009. “You can perform well in Australia, France or any of the other regattas around the world, but actually the only place that really matters is Weymouth.
“I’ve got a very good track record there. I won the Sail for Gold Regatta last June and came third the year before, and then second in the test event. So I’ve never finished worse than the top three.
“That is looking really good, so hopefully I can have a good build-up and we’ll be looking OK.
“It does help being on home water. You are just comfortable with your entire surroundings, not just on the water but off the water. You are in your own element and in your own environment, so it all becomes a little bit easier.”
In Beijing Dempsey had to stomach losing out on gold as he came home fourth on the Qingdao water, where he had just a few weeks to adjust to the Chinese course. This time around he will have had months to make sure he is firmly reacquainted with Weymouth’s ebbs and flows.
It all points to a serious challenge for gold in August – but the former world champion is remaining understandably cautious.
“Yes I would love to win a gold medal, but really it’s just about performing at your very best, and that is really all that’s important,” said Dempsey. “If that’s good enough for a gold medal then that is fantastic. And if it’s not, then it’s not.
“But as long as you have given it everything and you have performed at your best and done everything right, then you can’t really be unhappy.”
Born in Mulbarton, where Dempsey still visits to see family, the avid Norwich City fan is currently in Cadiz for the RS:X Worlds.
But the windsurfer’s year is set to be busy in more ways than one. Earlier this month Dempsey and his wife, Olympic sailing gold medallist Sarah Ayton, celebrated the birth of their second boy.
“I’m just moving out into the hotel for the next six months,” joked Dempsey. “It’s fantastic. I’m like any father. It’s a nice moment in your life, the timing is good and it’s nice to have an understanding wife that understands what you are doing, understands what you are trying to achieve and let’s you get on with what you are doing and be a selfish athlete and do everything you can to win.”
And that includes windsurfing with a bed sheet.
With the use of smartphones and tablet computers, visitors to Holiday Inn’s Kensington hotel can see Dempsey and a host of Team GB Olympic hopefuls strut their stuff in what has been dubbed the world’s first augmented reality hotel.
“You can walk into the video any time and take your photo next to the athlete; it’s all quiet surreal,” admitted Dempsey. “I went up to Manchester and we did all the filming for it on a green screen, and it’s nice seeing it become reality and sit next to myself windsurfing with a bed sheet. It’s all a bit mental but quite exciting.
“There are other things like billboards, ad campaigns, radio and all sorts – it all does just remind you how big the Olympics are going to be and how big a deal it is.”