Double Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie will have the chance to defend his Olympic crown in Beijing, as the 30-year-old is one of nine sailors to have today been officially selected by the British Olympic Association to compete at the 2008 Games.
Ainslie, along with Yngling World Champions Sarah Ayton-Sarah Webb-Pippa Wilson, 49er World Champions Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes, Star world bronze medallists Iain Percy-Andrew Simpson, and three-time Laser European Champion Paul Goodison, have all been named today as the first official members of ‘Team GB’ – the BOA’s team for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, which could ultimately comprise 300 athletes competing across 22 sports at the Games in August.
Ainslie earned the nod from Royal Yachting Association selectors for the single berth in the heavyweight Finn class following his impressive showing at the Sydney International Regatta last month, where his dominant performance, coupled with back to back wins at the two Olympic Test Regattas at Qingdao in 2006 and 2007, sealed his nomination to compete at a fourth Olympic Games.
Already the owner of a silver medal from Atlanta 1996 as well as golds from the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Games, Ainslie looks set to be one of Great Britain’s most decorated Olympians to be competing in Beijing, and he’s relishing the challenge of going for his third straight Olympic gold.
'It is fantastic news to be chosen to defend my Olympic Finn title in Beijing, and I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to once again represent my country at the Olympics,' said Ainslie.
'I am delighted to announce the first nine official members of Team GB for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games,' said Simon Clegg, BOA Chief Executive and 2008 Chef de Mission. 'Sailing is one of our core sports, one which has medalled consistently over many years, and which claimed five medals at the Athens 2004 Olympics.
'It is particularly appropriate that the first athletes to be selected to Team GB include Olympic silver and double gold medallist Ben Ainslie as well as Olympic gold medallists Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Iain Percy.
'We are confident that the sailing team will make a significant contribution to Team GB’s overall medal tally in Beijing and wish these athletes well as they make their final preparations for the Olympic Games.'
Stephen Park, RYA Olympic Manager and sailing’s Team Leader for the Beijing Games said: 'We’re pleased that the RYA’s nominated sailors have been accepted as part of Team GB for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and look forward to confirming our nominations in the remaining six classes over the next few months.
'This marks the beginning of the home straight in sailing’s preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games, where we hope to surpass our target of three medals on the waters of Qingdao in August.' Sailors selected for Team GB:
Finn class (heavyweight dinghy) - Ben Ainslie
Yngling class (women’s keelboat) - Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson
49er class (skiff) - Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes
Laser class (men’s one person dinghy) - Paul Goodison
Star class (men’s keelboat) - Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson