Australian flags proudly fluttered in the gathering breeze on Weymouth's Nothe hill today while fans roared with delight when Australian Tom Slingsby crossed the finishing line in ninth place (out of ten), strategically one position ahead of his only Gold-medal rival, Cypriot sailor Pavlos Kontides, to take home Gold. For Kontides, the disappointment of having missed Gold was quickly usurped by the realization that he had won Silver—the first Olympic medal that Cyprus has ever won in any Olympic sport. Rounding out the podium was Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren, who survived the scrutiny of the Olympic Equipment Inspection Committee (EIC) to keep his medal (keep reading).
While this headline is likely to make Australians extremely happy, the news that 'Slingo' secured gold comes as no surprise, given his commanding point spread going into today’s medal race. In fact, the only way that Slingo could have let Gold slide from his resume was if Kontides has finished seven places (not points) ahead of the speedy man from Down Under.
Tom Slingsby (AUS) competing in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition. - Thom Touw
To ensure that this would not happen, Slingo simply match-raced his Cypriot competitor from the race’s onset, never breaking contact with the young Kontides. Throughout the medal race, Slingo could be seen dumping dirty air onto Kontides’ sail, doing his absolute best to finally claim an Olympic victory.
Interestingly, Slingsby had previously won five Laser World Championships, but suffered a meltdown during the Qingdao games that nearly ended his Laser-sailing career. Impressively, the hyper-fit, always-enthusiastic Slingsby rallied, claiming plenty of national- and world-class titles before finally capping his impressive trophy collection with his most coveted win yet: Olympic Gold.
In a moment of true Olympic humor, Slingsby capsized just after crossing the finishing line, not once but twice. No doubt these 'victory swims' were well-earned, given the massive amount of training, work and patience that was required to achieve his Olympic moment. Still, Slingo righted his rig in between swims to proudly hold the Australian colors in front of his adoring fans that had gathered on Nothe hill.
For his part, Kontides will return a national hero after demonstrating world-class skills when it mattered most. According to the 22-year old Cypriot hero, however, these will not be his last Olympic Games as his long-term plans involve a little town called Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Also of interest was a protest that was lodged against Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren by the Olympic Equipment Inspection Committee (EIC). According to the protest, lodged under Equipment Inspection Rules 3.2 and 3.3, no sailor shall modify, alter or repair Olympic equipment without the written approval of the EIC. Once the sailors returned ashore, Myrgren, however, was cleared of the alleged offense. He will join Slingsby and Kontides on the Olympic medal podium later today, and the Olympic Bronze will travel home to Sweden.
Please stay tuned for more news from this class, including quotes from the medal winners and plenty of racecourse images from today's Laser medal race.
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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11:53 AM Mon 6 Aug 2012GMT
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