Can the British 470 crew upgrade to Gold in today’s medal race? To do so means beating the Australians
It has come as a surprise to Australians Malcolm Belcher and Mathew Page that the 470 Men’s competition has been such a two horse race with the Brits Luke Patience and Stu Bithell and the push for gold will be all the more tense for it.
The two teams go into the medal race today separated by four points but with a massive gap of 35 points over third placed Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente from Argentina.
“We always thought the GBR team would be up there with us and we are surprised there are not more teams involved,” said Belcher, competing in his first Olympics.
“The French have won three out of four regattas here and we expected the Croatians and the Spanish to be in contention so we are a bit surprised.”
Both the Brits and the Aussies are guaranteed at least silver but inevitably, both are dead keen to go one step further.
“We’ll celebrate the small success of that, have a day off tomorrow then we get cracking on the medal race day to see if we can go one colour shinier,” said Bithell after racing on Tuesday.
“To have secured at least a silver medal feels fantastic but it hasn’t sunk in yet properly.”
Patience and Bithell have come off the water each day with a big smile on their faces , chuffed at being able to compete in an Olympic Games and relishing the windy and wacky conditions. They have been like schoolboys being given the hardest conker in the pile ahead of a playground joust and have become favourites with the media because of their energy and enthusiasm and the pearls of wisdom that cascade from their motormouths at any given opportunity.
The Nothe course held little fear for them, they said, even though others had been tripped up by the fluky conditions.
“We’ve not been concerned about the vagaries of the Nothe course we’ll have the medal race on. Percy and Simpson may have potentially lost a gold medal on the flukiness – let’s go and get one. It’s going to be great with a bit of randomness but we’ve trained there a lot so bring it on.
“In our position this course will actually help us. It’s hard to defend on that course – I’d sooner be attacking than defending on the Nothe.”
Mother Nature deals what she deals and we’ll have to deal with that, Page said in response to the Nothe question. The Brits have to put one boat between them and the Aussies to take the gold which will not be easy and could get messy.
It will be a classic match racing contest, made even more tricky by the light winds but like their week long duel, will be a high quality white knuckle contest settled ultimately by the better performance.
470 Medal race starts at 1300