Paralympic silver lining for Matt Bugg
In a fighting last race comeback, Tasmanian Matt Bugg early today won the Silver Medal in the 2.4m Norlin OD class at the Rio Paralympics, brilliantly winning the final race.
Going into the race 11, Bugg was battling to win the bronze medal following his disqualification from race 10 with a mere two point margin to the fourth placed American Dee Smith.
In fact, but for that disqualification over a port and starboard incident after finishing first in race 10, he almost certainly would have won the Gold Medal.
Today, rather than get into a match race with Smith, Bugg brilliantly outsailed the entire fleet to score this fourth win of the Paralympics. With series leader Helena Lucas (GBR) finishing 14th, he leapfrogged her to win the Silver.
The Gold Medal in the 2.4s went to Damien Sequin (FRA) with a fourth place in the final race. Bugg’s initial rival for bronze, Dee Smith (USA) came in sixth.
“We were proud of Matt before he left for Rio, we would be proud no matter the result, but a Silver medal is a great reflection of how well Buggy sailed theses Paralympics and we are ecstatic!” the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania wrote on its Facebook page.
Matt Bugg’s Rio Paralympic Silver Medal is the culmination of a courageous return to sailing after a snow boarding accident in Europe left him a paraplegic.
He sailed reasonably well at the London 2012 Paralympics and has put in a tremendous effort, coached by Richard Scarr, over the past four years to become a top-ranked 2.4 sailing, winning regatta in Europe and then training on the chilly waters of Hobart’s River Derwent these past few months.
Australia has been the dominant nation in Paralympic sailing, with two Gold (Skud 18 two-person and Sonar three-person) and Bugg’s Silver in the 2.4m single-handed boat.
In a finale fitting on the setting, the Rio 2016 Paralympic Sailing Competition came to a spectacular close with the medals decided in front of a sell-out crowd lining the shores of Flamengo Beach.
Racing on the Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) race course, onlookers were treated to a thrilling climax in which some medals were settled by just seconds.
World Sailing/Peter Campbell
18 September 2016