4 Aug 2021

'We gave it our all' - Burling, Tuke reflect on Tokyo Olympics

From Checkpoint, 5:50 pm on 4 August 2021

"We gave it our all, and we definitely don't hold any regrets," silver medal winning sailor Peter Burling says, describing the bittersweet feeling of coming second in the 49er.

Burling and sailing partner Blair Tuke had hoped to repeat their Rio gold, but it was not to be, as Great Britain edged them out of the top spot.

But Burling was still chuffed to wear silver.

"Definitely a little bit bittersweet but I think nonetheless we're incredibly proud of the effort we've put in over the last four years to get to this point and to know now that we've won another Olympic medal for our country," he told Checkpoint.

Burling said processing the disappointment at not getting gold takes "a little while" but overall they are proud of the effort they put in.

"Obviously we had a bit of a tough start this week. We really fought back and gave ourselves a shot in that last race. It was incredibly tight, probably a couple of seconds, which is a very small margin in our sport, but it's something we really gave our all. That's all you can do as an athlete, give it your all, and we definitely don't hold any regrets."

The legendary sailors were both in Emirates Team New Zealand, winning the America's Cup earlier in the year. Winning a third consecutive medal at an Olympic Games after that has been a proud moment, he said.

"I think time will definitely make it feel a lot better than it did, seconds after the finish yesterday.

"We're just incredibly proud of the fact we've actually managed to come here and put together pretty solid event and walk away with another medal.

"We knew we'd put together a pretty solid race. A couple of things didn't quite go our way, with the breeze on the first upwind we were out on the righthand side and it didn't really quite work out, but we really took a couple of moments to sink in that we hadn't quite managed to achieve that gold medal.

"But at the same time, you still managed to win a silver medal for your country, which is something that's not exactly easy to do. We're just incredibly proud of that and looking forward to celebrating that over the next little period.

"Like everyone else Covid-19 really threw a bit of a curveball at the Olympic Games. We're obviously incredibly stoked the Games have actually gone ahead. Thanks to everyone here in Japan for being so welcoming.

"It's been an incredible time up here and for us it's really been the priority since the America's Cup to make sure we're as ready as we could be for this competition.

"It's very different to any other build-up we've ever done. The whole fleet hasn't raced against each other for 18 months… just because of how Covid-19 hit different places at different times and meant every event has pretty much been cancelled.

"It's been a very interesting build-up with not much racing, but nonetheless we felt like we were in a really good shape to go and put our best foot forward. We came so close to winning it but stoked to walk away with silver nonetheless."

Blair Tuke told Checkpoint the silver medal has been a nice addition to their rooms at Tokyo's Olympic village.

"This morning I had a chance to check in with back home… huge amount of support, we would normally have quite a few close family and friends here supporting us.

"But we still felt that love and support from back home so that was awesome."

He said it was a proud moment for them, knowing how much Burling and Tuke had put into preparing for the competition.

"Not just the last few months but the last few years. So they're obviously a little bit gutted with how close we came, but still just very proud.

"Winning an Olympic medal for your country is an amazing achievement… With how close it came to getting the gold medal, that makes it a little bit tougher at the time but nevertheless, just to represent Aotearoa at the Olympic Games is a special thing and something we've always been very proud to do.

"To now know that we're bringing another Olympic medal home is awesome."

Tuke said it has been a busy few months since the America's Cup victory.

"We knew we wanted a chance to be competitive here - because we hadn't put in a heap of sailing over the last year on the 49er – we'd have to just dive straight into it.

"We prepared well, we did a trip up to Europe where we checked in with the European fleet. Did three weeks up there, then we trained back in New Zealand, trained a couple of weeks in Australia and here to Japan.

"It was a good build up, we pushed very hard… that's what we're proud of as well - just the work we've put in to get to this point.

"It's been a heck of a journey for us over the last few years… We'll take stock now and reassess, but it's always an awesome opportunity when you get to represent your country at the Olympic Games."