The Laser Radial class has seen newcomers progress and Olympic medalists continue on their upward trend throughout the Rio 2016 quadrennial to form a formidable class line up. But it was the Netherlands’ Marit Bouwmeester who rose above the fleet and showed she was the most determined and focussed to claim the coveted Olympic gold medal.
Bouwmeester began the nomination period with a silver medal in Abu Dhabi at the Sailing World Cup Final before making the short trip to Oman where she again picked up a silver at the 2015 Laser Radial World Championships.
At the turn of the year, the Dutch sailor made the trip to Rio de Janeiro in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and competed at the Brazilian Laser Radial Championships and the Brazilian Nationals. Bouwmeester won both in quick succession to gain some confidence ahead of the summer showpiece in a venue that was touted to offer a range of sailing conditions.
A silver at Sailing World Cup Miami and gold at the European Championships followed before Bouwmeester fell outside of the medals in the 2016 Worlds in Mexico by finishing fourth.
The Dutch sailor is renowned for her fierce competitiveness and drive and obviously a fourth place finish was not acceptable. She was determined to make amends and would take the disappointment to add to the fire that burns inside her to win.
Bouwmeester returned home to win the Delta Lloyd Regatta and continued her strong racing to take the Sailing World Cup Weymouth and Portland title, the final international regatta before her assault on the Olympic title. An assault she had waited four years for after claiming silver at London 2012. She wanted, needed to go one better.
With two wins in Rio de Janiero already under her belt, Bouwmeester took her Rio form to sail a steady and consistent regatta which gave her an advantage heading in to the all important Medal Race. A race in which the memories of her last Olympic outing were still fresh, she would not make any mistakes this time around.
In a to and fro finale, Bouwmeester put to rest any Olympic demons she had. As she crossed the finish line, Bouwmeester knew she had the Olympic gold medal that she had coveted so much.
With a knack for punishing opponents when the time comes, Bouwmeester kept her cool and sailed an accomplished regatta when it mattered the most. Taking the experience of her earlier Rio de Janiero wins and the London 2012 lessons, the Dutch Radial sailor bettered her previous Olympic result by one position. But what a position, the gold was finally hers.