by Matt Carter
Four-time Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie has now announced that he is to retire from Olympic sailing in order to fully focus on his ambition to win the America’s Cup.
Ben Ainslie, Finn - London 2012
Read Ainslie’s statement here.
In response, John Derbyshire, RYA Performance Director, commented: 'Ben has always made it clear that his two career goals have been to win Olympic gold, and to win the America’s Cup. With four Olympic golds and a silver across five Games, and now the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, he has nothing left to prove in Olympic terms and there can be no question that he’s more than achieved his first goal. It’s therefore entirely understandable that he should now want to turn his attentions to the second, and hopefully lead a British team to win the oldest trophy in sport for the very first time.
'The word ‘legend’ is often over-used in sport, but Ben really is one – a determined yet unassuming, modest, often under-recognised legend in this nation’s sporting history. He has been a talismanic figure in the RYA’s Olympic programme for over 16 years, through his successes inspiring new waves of sailors to get involved in the sport, and passing on his tireless work ethic and campaign skills to other young talents, who will look to follow in his footsteps and take on the challenge of keeping GBR a leading light in Olympic sailing in the years to come.'
Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager, added: 'From our side, the door is always open for Ben to return if he feels that gold in Rio is a viable prospect, but we wish him every success with JPMorgan Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and his uncompromising focus on an America’s Cup-winning campaign. I know we will continue to keep in close contact with Ben, who is keen to help and support the Olympic programme and talented youngsters coming through in whatever way he can.'