On 24 August, the Olympic flame will be extinguished simultaneously at the National Stadium in Beijing and the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, officially ending the Games of the XXIX Olympiad and bringing to a conclusion a remarkable journey for the sport of sailing.
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Sailing Competition brought together 400 of the world’s finest sailors racing in 272 boats representing 62 nations. They demonstrated their talent to the world over the course of 117 races during 13 days of competition in 11 sailing events. After years of dedication and training, competition for the ultimate prize in sport came down to 11 Medal Races, where the winners of the 33 sailing medals of the Beijing Games were decided.
Reflecting on the Games, ISAF President Göran PETERSSON said, 'I’d like to offer my congratulations to everyone involved in the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition who contributed to making it such a fantastic success. To the 400 sailors who have competed in Qingdao, congratulations on representing your nation and showcasing our sport to the world. To the medal winners, what more is there to say? You have reached the very pinnacle of sporting success; savour your triumph - you are all heroes of our sport and your success will inspire the sailors of the future.
'Our hosts in Qingdao have provided a magnificent venue, a warm welcome and shown great dedication. A huge thank you to the Sailing Committee and to the thousands of volunteers who have shown true Olympic spirit in their efforts and their enthusiasm for our sport. Your dedication has ensured not just a great Games, but a great legacy for sailing. China won its first ever Olympic gold medal in sailing this year, but I am certain it will not be the last.
'To all of those who have followed sailing at the Games, whether it be watching on the television, via the internet, newspapers, radio, magazines or any other medium - thank you for showing your support of our sport. I hope sharing in the passion, the excitement and the spirit of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition has inspired your own sailing dreams.'
In many ways this was a landmark Games for sailing. It was the first time the Medal Race format, featuring the top ten competitors competing in a final double-points race, was used at the Olympic Games. China won its first ever gold medal in sailing, whilst Alessandra SENSINI of Italy became the first female sailor to win four Olympic medals. British sailor Ben AINSLIE won his third consecutive Olympic gold medal, a feat International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques ROGGE called 'equally fantastic' to the recording-breaking performances of American swimmer Michael PHELPS and Jamaican sprinter Usain BOLT.
In total 18 nations won medals, including the first ever sailing medal for Lithuania. With four gold, one silver and one bronze medal, Great Britain topped the sailing Medal Tally for the third consecutive Games. Other gold medals went to Australia (two), Spain, the USA, China, Denmark and New Zealand.
There have been many remarkable and memorable moments: the roar of the crowd as China’s Jian YIN fought her way back into a gold medal winning position in the Women’s RS:X Medal Race; the nail-biting second beat in the Star Medal Race; and of course, the incredible 49er Medal Race are just three.
2008 Paralympic Games takes place from 6-17 September, with Qingdao hosting the Paralympic Sailing Competition from 8-13 September.
The next Olympic Games takes place in London, Great Britain in 2012. Weymouth and Portland will host the Olympic Sailing Competition.
Full story at http://www.sailing.org