Rio 2016: Luke Patience aims to add to Olympic 470 silver

By Amy MacBeathBBC Sport Scotland
Elliot Willis and Luke Patience
Luke Patience (right) was originally due to compete with Elliot Willis

Luke Patience is a very much a man on a mission, in Rio to take care of what he calls "unfinished business".

The Scottish sailor sees these Olympic Games as a chance to not only better his London 2012 silver medal, but to ensure the last few years have not been in vain.

Patience's journey to Brazil took an unexpected, late twist when partner Elliot Willis was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November.

Ahead of his opening race on Wednesday he told BBC Sport: "Everything obviously stopped there and then and most importantly it was all about Elliot's health - sailing took a back seat and the Olympics took a back seat.

"More than anything, I hope he recovers.

"Whatever I do in Rio, Elliot is part of that and we're finishing things that Elliot and I started together."

The 29-year-old from Helensburgh has since joined forces with England's Chris Grube for the men's 470, and the pair have had only seven months to prepare.

But he reckons that might just stand him in good stead.

Patience said: "I have no pressure or expectation that we should be medalling like we were for London, so back to the underdog and that suits me just fine.

"I'll be the most free man in the race, nothing to lose."

'New lesson in work ethic'

Chris Grube and Luke Patience
Chris Grube and Luke Patience will now team for Great Britain in Rio

The Olympian admits it has been a "manic" period. Having laid the groundwork with Willis, he said they believed they were well on course for success this summer.

He said: "We were regularly on the podium, won the European Championships and finally managed to end the Australians' dominance in our class, beating them in Miami in 2015 - that was a big, big moment as they'd been unbeaten in 17 regattas.

"We really felt we were on target. As soon as we beat the Aussies we thought we could go to Rio and win."

But the Scot paid tribute to 31-year-old Grube, who has been "so humble" despite being thrown into the challenge of learning to work in total unison, up against teams who have many years together.

"I've asked so much of him," said Patience. "He has a family at home and is renovating a house and I've asked him to stop all that and come Olympic sailing with me.

"I think I've had a new lesson in work ethic since Elliot had to stop sailing, we are cramming in time on the water.

"There are 24 hours a day in every day - but it's the same amount of hours Albert Einstein had, and Leonardo Di Vinci, and they both did amazing things.

"I now expect to arrive on the start line, look around and know I've worked harder in those seven months than everyone. I want that feeling and that will give me a boost."

Despite having to re-qualify and establish a solid partnership in such a short time frame, Patience seems remarkably confident that he and Grube can earn a spot on the podium.

"I don't see any reason why 'Twiggy' (Grube) and I can't produce a result that will bring home any colour of medal. It's a tall order, but somebody has to win."

Guanabara Bay

Patience previously expressed concerns about the quality of water in Brazil and the prospect of falling ill from the sewage in the water.

But as the event draws near the Scot claims the location could lend itself to the most iconic regatta yet, one that reminds him somewhat of home.

Luke Patience and Chris Grube
Luke Patience and Chris Grube begin their Olympic bid at Guanabara Bay on Wednesday

He said: "Rio is immense, the most epic venue I've ever sailed at - the topography, the high land, the turbulent winds, the fact we are on a river mouth so the tide flows in and out.

"It's not a million miles from what the west of Scotland is like - bigger, certainly warmer.

"It's one of these venues where if you get ahead you never really feel safe, it's not over until you cross the finish line.

"It feels an environment that's less controllable although historically Brits are better in venues that are harder to predict, so maybe that'll stand us in good stead.

"It'll bring out a good all-rounder on every class to win these Olympics which is good for the sport. I can't wait."

'More than just sport'

Patience's mind is never far from the friend with whom he began the road to Rio.

"The philosophy and motives I have, there's some deep fuel coming from a deep place, more than just sport," he said.

"Whatever happens, certainly any success, he is wholeheartedly part of it as it never would have happened without him. I'll be thinking of him, for sure, I think of him every day.

"I'm flying a few flags as I'm flying Elliot's as well."

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