Golden girls - GBR and the Greeks each take gold with a day to spare
The Greek girls Sofia Bekatorou and Amilia Tsoulfa in their 470 were the first to take a Gold medal at the sailing Olympics, followed swiftly by the British girls in the Yngling. Both achieved their success with a day to spare and both have looked good throughout the week.
For the GBR Yngling girls the result is spectacular and a huge relief given their rather erratic performances earlier in the season and their struggle to find pace in light conditions. The result is all the more impressive for Shirley herself who adds this Gold to the one she won in Sydney in the Europe. To get two consecutive gold medals in two very different boats is impressive work and makes her the most successful female Olympic sailor alongside Teresa Zabell who won two medals in the 470 class.
“It’s been a struggle, this season we’ve been up and down and we’ve pulled through,” said Robertson shortly after stepping ashore. “We’ve had races this week when we’ve been second to last into the weather mark and we’ve had to convert these and if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t be standing here with a Gold medal. I can’t praise both the Sarahs enough for their amazing determination,” she said.
So with a race to be run will they race tomorrow?
“No, we’re getting our hair done!”
Meanwhile, Ben Ainslie stamped his authority on the Finn class today but his rivals didn’t cut him enough slack to head off for a haircut just yet. Scoring a second in the first race and a bullet in the second, his closest rival the Spanish sailor Rafael Trujillo could only manage a 5th and a 4th which widened the gap between them on total points. Tomorrow’s a lay day for the Finns so crunch time comes on Saturday with the final race where Ainslie needs to finish within 14 places of the Spaniard to secure Gold.
“It was a good day today but I was a little bit tense going out because it was still very close overall, the weather was pretty light and it’s always tricky when it’s like that here,” he said. “But I was delighted to nail home two races today.”
The Spanish perspective on the race was a similar one, but gave a clue as to the respect that Ainslie enjoys even among his closest competition.
“I tried hard to win a race but it was impossible due to Ben. He is from another planet,” said Trujillo.
But with victory hanging on the final race, would Ainslie be prepared to employ the same tactics that won him the Gold in Sydney where he match raced Scheidt off the course to secure his win?
“There’s no possibility of that happening now because there’s only one discard and the three of us in medal contention have lost our discards. This is good for me because the guys behind can’t really risk having a go at me, which means that everyone will probably concentrate on their own race.”
Something the British 470 men might dream of after today’s struggle around the course. In the overall results Rogers and Glanfield have now slipped from first to second for the first time in the event after their American opponents took them out and dumped them one side of the course in the second race.
“We pulled out a better start than them but they tried to block us out to the left,” said Nick Rogers. “After that we were caught in the back pack and just couldn’t break free.”
Rogers and Glanfield finshed this race 19th, their worst position of the event so far, which in itself wouldn’t have been so bad had the American’s not finished 4th in the same race. Earlier in the day the results between the two had been reversed with the Brits finishing 10th and the American’s dumped back in 18th. They were clearly miffed by this and came out fighting. Amazing what a little controlled anger can do to results in this Olympics.
Like the Finn class, the 470 men will have to wait until Saturday to get their top slot back, by which time they will need to be three places ahead to win Gold. Not impossible, but hard work and certainly a race to watch.
The answer would seem to be to get mad and then get even.