Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page 470 Gold medal winners at London 2012
by Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page on 18 Aug 2012
Malcolm Page, Australia's 470 Gold medallist at London 2012 explains:
Mathew Belcher and Malcom Page celebrating their Gold Medal win in the Mens 470 - with coach Victor Kovalenko - his sixth Olympic Gold as a coach © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com
Obviously Mat (Belcher) and I are top of the world at the moment. Winning the Gold Medal and becoming Olympic Champions in London was the mission we set four years ago, when we joined as a team. But the most satisfying thing was that we did it in such style. Coach Victor always said he wanted us to dominate the final year leading into the games.... which is exactly what we did.
Since the Olympic test event one year ago, we have won all regattas bar the Sail Melbourne World Cup event late last year. Since that moment we have been unstoppable. The Olympic games was our eighth regatta in a row, which included two World Championships and four World Cup events.
I think the biggest feeling we both felt upon victory after carrying the 'favourite and world number 1' target was relief. The week of competition was very difficult. We had strong winds for the majority of the competition which also made it very physical. This breeze range meant that we struggled all week with upwind speed compared to the British pair (the only boat though!) due to the pom crew being heavier than me. Thankfully once we got around the top mark and got the spinnaker up, we were able to go faster than them. So we had to use every little bit of wind strategy and tactics to keep ourselves in the game, so that we would be in the fight at the end of the week.
We went into the final race with a slim lead with a four point margin. The wind was predicted to be very light on this race day... and sure enough... we were waiting for close to five hours under a postponement flag before the races were cancelled for that day. So we had to come back the next day to try again. The winds were not a lot stronger, but it was sailable. The race started with the British pair having the Gold at the first mark. We thankfully pulled out the jets on the first downwind to take the lead from them. The race continued like this with the placings being in the balance, but we managed to get our noses ahead for the last spinnaker ride to the finish. We then kept everything simple and avoided any situations with other boats. After crossing the line in second, and GBR in fourth, we had secured the Gold Medal by eight points overall.
It was a really special moment, as this was the first time that any Australia sailor has won dual Gold Medals. Also we were the only people in the whole Australian Olympic Team to defend the title from the Beijing Olympics. This was obviously enough for the AOC Chef de Mission Nick Green to give me a call the morning after receiving our medals to ask if I would like the honour of carrying the Australian Flag and leading the whole AUS team into the closing ceremony. What an incredible honour.
Additionally, the Australian Olympic Sailing Team was amazing with delivering three Golds and one Silver medal in total. Eight of the 13 athletes that were selected in the team came home with some 'Bling'. These results made Australia the No.1 sailing team in the world, and No.1 sport for the whole Australian Olympic Team.
These results are a credit to the Australian Sailing Team (AST) and their system, and the people who are part of the process. The AST Sponsors, Government support and the AST Patrons have naturally been instrumental in this success, and I appreciate all that they have done for me and the team as a whole.
A few thank you's before I sign off. A huge thank you to Mathew as well as my personal sponsors, family and friends for all your support. Further I also owe thank you's to the other special people in our core team - to Sam Kivell and Will Ryan, thank you for being awesome training partners and great mates! And most importantly thank you to our super coach Victor 'Medal Maker' Kovalenko for master minding the last 15 years for me and 12 years for Mat, and all the success that I have enjoyed.
But we save the best to last, thanks to all of you for the never ending supply of support and belief over the last four years.
Mat and Malcolm
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