For Rio Olympic silver medallist Lisa Darmanin ‘it’s all eyes on Tokyo’, in a bid to go one better and bring home sailing gold. By Richard Cooke.


Silver linings: Lisa Darmanin, 25, sailor

Do I think of the Olympics being one year in the past, or three years in the future? It’s definitely three years to another Olympics now. I think until we hit 2017 I was living in Rio. But now it’s all eyes on Tokyo.

It’s very strange when you spend four years for one week of sailing or one week of competition. It was really hard to let go of that. It was over. Obviously we did well – we got silver – but the goal was a gold medal.

It was still unfinished business. It was such an emotional year that when it quickly turned to 2017 I was devastated because I had to let go of that and begin again with a new goal.

It was a really difficult time post-Olympics – because you’re very, very lost in all of that, and coming back to the real world is a big shock as well.

You can’t prepare yourself for an Olympic Games unless you’ve been before. So many people have described to me how it feels, and they described to me what it would be like competing but it was just so unique. It comes down to that one moment that you’ve been working towards – it’s not so much happiness as it is relief. That you made it there, and then you made it through, I guess.

Are silver medallists more disappointed than bronze medallists? Yeah, I think that rings pretty true for a lot of silver medallists. But I haven’t asked a lot of bronze medallists how they feel about it. Especially for us; we were one point off gold and that just was brutal. But that’s sport. 

I sail with my cousin Jason, in a mixed gender class. It’s the first time that they’ve had compulsory mixed gender at the Olympics for sailing. So it is quite unique, and it was quite a challenge for a lot of teams. Not for Jason and me – we were very close before we entered into an Olympic campaign together. But you’ve got to do this with someone you know. 

He’s family and also my best friend. It just solidifies the relationship, because nobody can understand what you’ve gone through except for that person. So I think it is quite special and it’s something that can never be taken away from us.

We talk every couple of days. He’s in Bermuda at the moment, but we’re both really excited to get back together on a campaign trail. So when we come home we have our time with our family and friends.

Sailing is what sailors do on their days off. It’s a sport that can be taken so leisurely or so competitively. So I think it is very unique in the fact that you’re tackling the elements, there are times where there’s survival mode and you really have to trust each other and you have to move as one.  

I love being free on that water. I think that every time my feet are in the sand and we get on the boat, anything that’s happening, I feel it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to worry about any problems or any issues or anything else. All I focus on is what wind is coming at me and enjoying that, those moments.

There are times that you need to step away and I do miss it. And that’s the important thing – to be able to miss it is a very good thing. 

I wasn’t picked for my talent, but rather my age and weight. Then I had to prove myself, and there was a coach called Traks Gordon. He just saw that we were something different, but it just worked perfectly because what I was good at was what Jason needed help at, and what I was bad at, Jason could help me out with. 

Jason is naturally talented in sailing, he just has a lot of feel, but he’s the most disorganised person on the planet. I’m the opposite – I was an okay sailor but I really had to learn a lot, and work really hard on that aspect. It’s kind of interesting – at first it used to frustrate me, but now we’ve learnt our roles and we’ve defined them really well. It’s just part of the job. 

The gender mix is super unique, but I think it’s absolutely amazing. It’s awesome to be racing boys and girls and it doesn’t really matter. The crew is traditionally the more physical role but that’s actually my role on the boat.


This week’s highlights…

• AFL: Richmond v Sydney Swans

Saturday, 1.45pm (AEST), Melbourne Cricket Ground

• Rugby union: Wallabies v Scotland

Saturday, 3pm (AEST), Allianz Stadium, Sydney

• Netball: Sunshine Coast Lightning v Giants Netball

Saturday, 7pm (AEST), Brisbane Entertainment Centre

• Motorsport: Darwin Triple Crown – Supercars Championship, Race 12

Sunday, 1.30pm (ACST), Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin

 Soccer: Confederations Cup – Socceroos v Germany

Tuesday, 1am (AEST), Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia

• NRL: State of Origin, game 2 – New South Wales v Queensland 

Wednesday, 8pm (AEST), ANZ Stadium, Sydney

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 17, 2017 as "Silver linings".

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