London Olympics 2012 - Medal haul complete for British sailors
by Emma Slater on 11 Aug 2012
At the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition, Britain’s sailors ended on a high with two more silver medals on Friday 10th August as the nation picked up a five medal haul for the fourth consecutive Olympics.
GBR, Men’s 470 Medal Race - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition © Ingrid Abery http://www.ingridabery.com
Olympic debutants, Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, ran the Australian triple World Champions, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, close for 470 Men’s gold in the first medal race of the day before Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who only started sailing together 18 months ago, then collected Britain’s final medal of the 2012 Games.
The boys’ medal means this is the third consecutive Games that the selected British Men's 470 team has won the silver medal while the girls are first ever British Women's 470 Olympic medallists as well as first ever Women's 470 World Champions.
The 470 medals followed Ben Ainslie’s Finn gold and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson’s Star silver on Sunday and Nick Dempsey’s RS:X Windsurfing silver on Tuesday.
Patience said: 'Finally we can open up a little bit and enjoy that euphoric feeling of something we have worked so, so hard for. To have a small disappointment of not having got the gold today it was very short-lived and it was into ‘Here we are, we’ve done it!’ When we crossed the finish line all and the celebrations, it was mad, manic! What a week, we’ve sailed the regatta of our lives, what a place, we’re in paradise.'
Bithell said: 'We’ve won a silver at our first Olympics. The actual podium was what I personally dreamt of and I can’t wait to hop up on it. That is going to be some moment and emotional no doubt. The Aussies sailed a fantastic race, we tried to attack but they are worthy champions. We’re happy with second at our first Games.'
Mills said: 'The crowd was amazing. It was so, so nice having our family and friends down and even everyone else who we don’t know that has come out to support. It is incredible and just such so exciting for us. We didn’t get a gold medal did we? We have got stuff to win now and I’m definitely, definitely keen [to campaign for Rio 2016]. I’d love to do it with Sas but she has got to make that call, I’m keen, I’m in!'
Clark said: 'I’ve had a total rollercoaster the past four years and the last 18 months with Hannah have just been awesome. When we started sailing together 18 months ago we put everything in to try to qualify for the Olympic team. At that point in time we weren’t even thinking about a medal it was just about qualifying. So to come away with a medal together, we’ve had a wicked time.'
The sailors’ success means that once again Britain has ended an Olympic regatta having claimed more medals than any other nation, eclipsing the team’s pre-Games target of four medals of any colour.
RYA Olympic Manager, Stephen Park admits that while some sailors will be frustrated that they weren’t able to convert silver to gold, overall the team must be extremely pleased with their efforts.
He said: 'We have managed to hit the target we set at the beginning of the event, a medal target of four from our 10 events, which we thought was reasonable. So to get five medals of course we are very pleased. We knew that the competition was going to be tough, that’s sport. So to have come away with medals in 50% of the events, we’ve got to be really happy with that.
'I suppose we are also conscious there were opportunities that slipped away from us when we were racing for gold. But on the whole I have got to be happy. We have done a pretty good job because we came into this event with the sailors who have results that prove that they are medal competitive. That’s really where you want to be if you want to be able to come away with medals in half of your events.
'It’s been great to have a mix of some of the more experienced sailors and some of the newcomers. It bodes really well for the future. We always know there are some reasons why some of those people won’t perform on a given day. But to have both the 470s in a position racing for gold today, as they were with two new teams, is fantastic and really puts us in a good place moving forwards. Of course we will continue to look and continue to strive to be even more competitive in 2016.'
The British Sailing Team is now looking forward to the start of the Paralympic Sailing Regatta at Weymouth and Portland from Saturday 1 September where six British sailors will compete in the three Paralympic classes.