Patience finds virtue in perseverance as he qualifies the hard way

Luke Patience had all but given up on competing at the Olympics not so long ago, feeling he was not reaping the rewards his hard work deserved.

Now, though, the Scots sailor is 99 days away from the start of a Games at which he will not only be taking part, but also realistically hoping to take home a medal in the men’s 470 class.

Things had not been so rosy for Patience back in 2009 when he was considering his future in the sport.

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He had all but given up on competing at London 2012 until forging a somewhat accidental pairing with Stuart Bithell, borne out of failed campaigns and frustrations.

The pair had sailed 420s against one another as teenagers and Bithell suggested they give the 470s a go.

Two weeks later they left the World Championships in Copenhagen with a silver medal. “We had sailed together for five days in Weymouth before the last one, packed up the boats and drove to Denmark,” Patience said. “Obviously we did a couple of days’ pre-race training, but literally a couple of days. We sailed in the boat for hardly any hours so that was quite cool.”

More success followed but, by their own admission, they let their foot off the gas. They tasted some poor results as a consequence and their hopes of securing the solitary British berth for the Games looked over when Nick Rogers and Chris Grube were selected for last year’s Test event.

“Not getting selected for the pre-Olympics regatta was disappointing,” said Rochdale-born Bithell. “That said, it was a blessing in disguise to feel that failure. It really did fire us up.”

Having taken bronze at the Europeans, the galvanising effect of the disappointment was evident in December when the pair went to Perth, Australia for the 2011 World Championships. Two years on from their 470 debut in the competition, they again took home a silver medal – one which secured their spot in the British squad for the Olympics.

“It has been such a hard battle to win the trials, it is important to celebrate the small successes,” Patience said of their selection. “But there is a time when that needs to stop. This will mean nothing if we come fourth in the Olympics, absolutely nothing.”