Olympic gold medalist Tom Burton talks about his success at Rio and his plans for the future.
– Interview by Heather Jones
How tough was it out there on the water?
It was very tough. Different conditions every day together with different race courses – meaning different wave patterns / tides / skills required – made it very different day to day.
What gave you the winning edge?
I was very happy with my preparation. Both in the months before and the week leading up in Rio. I was very comfortable with the venue and knowing it was going to be a tough week and to keep fighting all the way to the end made the bad days not so bad and the good days even more special.
Are there any areas that you still feel you need to improve in a Laser?
I think I would like to have better downwinds at times. I know I can be fast downwind but I am more comfortable with my upwinds, so find myself a little cautious on the downwinds.
Why choose the Laser to compete in?
The Laser is such a great class, with the insane high quality fleet and the numbers of boats at every event. It’s always tough from club racing up to the Olympics and I love the intensity. It’s very rewarding knowing every boat is the same and I need to sail well to win. If I win I know I was the best on the day.
How was Rio as a venue?
Rio definitely turned it on. I was waiting for the Olympic venue to get very flashy but that never really happened. It was still a nice vibe and the race course didn’t have any issues.
I had some frustrations with the timing of everything and some things running a little late but it all came together in the end.
Were you concerned about the water?
I wasn’t really concerned. I’ve seen much worse after torrential rain in some training blocks. We had vitamins and things on hand and had all the vaccines before arriving.
Was there a good sense of camaraderie?
Yeah we are all friends. We race hard on the water but all know everyone is just trying their hardest and we can chat about it on land. Obviously the Olympics is the pinnacle so it was a bit more serious at this regatta.
Did you get a big welcome back to Australia?
We had a huge reception like every Olympic team does on the return to Australia. It has been great. Sailing has had some media coverage and it’s good to see the sailing tactics come into the media with my sailing medal race getting coverage nation wide.
Do you think your Olympic success could lead to other paths?
I’d hope so. I really put a lot of effort into the last 4-8 years so I would love for it to continue to bigger and better things. Saying that I’m very happy with where I’m at and will continue to make small steps towards a larger goal.
Will your success help with future sponsorship?
I’m not sure. I’m lucky in already being supported by a fantastic team with a bunch of team supporters. I’m also very fortunate to already have great personal sponsors, and am very happy to reward their support with a win at the Olympics which was the goal when I first started talking with them.
Have you had much time to relax since your return?
It’s getting better. The first week was very intense. It’s still a solid days work with emails and functions but it’s slowing down. I’ve had some days off, chilling on the couch, sailing other boats and catching up with friends.
Will you compete in the 2020 Olympics?
I think the more time I’ve had to think about it and look at the options I will be aiming to go to Tokyo and more than likely in the Laser. No one has won back to back gold medals in the Laser so it definitely looks appealing.
What are your plans for the long term?
I’m not really sure. I would love to keep sailing and get more involved in the yachting side as well as the Olympic side and become more of an all round sailor.
Where do you keep your gold medal?
At the moment I’m still visiting friends, family, schools and functions so it’s been doing alot of travelling in my backpack!