Rio 2016: Luke Patience considered missing Olympics after colleague's cancer setback

By Jane LewisBBC Scotland
Luke Patience and Elliot Willis
Luke Patience was originally due to compete with Elliot Willis

Luke Patience admits he thought about not trying to qualify for the Olympics again after his initial sailing partner was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Elliot Willis was given the devastating news at the end of 2015.

That meant 2012 silver medallist Patience had to find another partner in the 4-70 class and re-qualify for Rio.

"I did think for a while that if I can't do it with him then I don't know if I want to do it all, but that was the emotional Luke talking," he said.

"I did feel incredibly guilty. I still feel guilty now that I'm away sailing, but he wouldn't want me to do anything different.

"And it slowly dawned on me that, of course, I want to go and do it and, of course, I need to find someone else to do this with."

Patience qualified for the 2016 event with new partner Chris Grube, but Willis is still very much in his thoughts - and is a great inspiration.

"Whatever we go on to do at the Olympic Games in two months, he is and was part of that," the Scot stressed.

"I'm finishing things we started together with someone else, so he'll be as much a part of it even though he's not there in the boat."

Patience describes the situation with Willis as giving him "an extra wee bit of fuel".

However, he realises that going one better than London 2012 and winning Olympic gold is anything but assured and fears the heavily criticised water quality at Guanabara Bay could play a part in deciding who medals in Rio.

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

"The water is a bit foul, it's not nice," Patience told BBC Scotland. "But what are you going to do? That's where the Olympics will be.

"But it's not nice. It's a different kind of level of sewage I guess that I've sailed in before."

Despite being an experienced sailor, Patience admits to having some concerns about becoming ill from the water problems.

"There was times that I wondered if our medal prospects might be decided on whether someone gets ill or someone doesn't," he said. "And that's still maybe the case.

"I wouldn't wish it on my competitors and I certainly don't wish it on myself obviously.

"I hope everyone builds immunity to it and everyone is at their best and racing their best on the day."

Although the World Health Organization has dismissed calls for the Olympics to be moved because of the Zika outbreak in Brazil, other medical experts have expressed worries about the Games posing a risk to global public health.

"I've never heard so much rubbish in my life," said Patience. "Of course they're not going to postpone or cancel the Olympics.

"There are health issues everywhere you go around the world.

"It's not nice people getting the Zika virus or Dengy fever, but it would take more than that to have an Olympics stopped.

"They are a great sporting nation, they love sport and I honestly think the Brazilians will put on an amazing Olympics."

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