My Best Olympic Race – Robert Scheidt, Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 final Laser races
Gracious, stylish and attractive victories are expected when an athlete is at the top of their game. The style of victory helps to define who you are as a competitor.
Think of the Brazilian football team at the Mexico 1970 World Cup, Roger Federer’s seven victories on Wimbledon’s hallowed turf and Lewis Hamilton streaking ahead of the field in Formula 1. Each win demonstrated mastery, grace and elegance. At the other end of the spectrum, winning ugly is not uncommon. A gritty, dogged performance can be just as effective and at the end of the day, a win is a win and the history books put each victory as equal.
Robert Scheidt, the famous Brazilian sailor, knows what it takes to win with ruggedness, as he did at Atlanta 1996 and with class, Athens 2004. The final races at both Olympic Games go down as Scheidt’s best Olympic races.
Heading into the final Laser race at Savannah, the Atlanta 1996 sailing venue, Ben Ainslie (GBR) trailed Scheidt by two points so a battle of wits was about to ensue on the race course.
The pair had fought each other throughout the week sharing five race wins out of ten heading into Race 11.
“Between me and Ben, I had a better discard so we were both pushing hard at the start and I knew that if we were over the line that I would win,” explained Scheidt. “He didn’t want to let me start before him so we were both pushing a lot under a black flag and in the end we both got disqualified which is not a great way to win a gold medal but you take it as it comes.”
Scheidt had his moment of style at Athens 2004, holding firm in the final race to seal victory by 13 points over Austria’s Andreas Geritzer.
“It was a very tense race in very light wind,” said Scheidt. “There were many guys who could win gold and I had to make a decision at the beginning of the race to go right or left. Luckily I went left and there was a bit more breeze and I finished sixth but ahead of my main competitors and I wrapped up the gold medal.
“It was a big emotion and it was just one of those races you’ll never forget.”
By Daniel Smith – World Sailing