by Lindsey Bell
Qingdao Olympic Regatta 2008. RS:X Women’s medal race. Bryony Shaw (GBR) celebrates winning bronze.
Bryony Shaw won Great Britain’s first ever women’s windsurfing medal clinching RS:X bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Qingdao Wednesday. Shaw, who won the 2007 Olympic Test Event, knew a top three finish in today’s double points medal race would guarantee her a medal at her first ever Olympic Games, going into the race in bronze medal position eight points behind leader Jian Yin (CHN) and five behind Alessandra Sensini (ITA) in second.
The Brit showed her intent from the off, flying off the start line at the second time of asking following a general recall, reaching the top mark in second and nudging into first place at the bottom mark.
But after World Champion Sensini had taken over at the front of the fleet heading down to the slalom finish, Shaw dug in and stayed comfortably ahead of nearest challengers Jessica Crisp (AUS) and Marina Alabau (ESP) to finish the race second and take the bronze.
Yin finished the race in third place to claim gold with 39 points, Sensini taking silver with 40 and Shaw winning bronze with 45.
Speaking immediately after the race an overcome Shaw said: 'I’m just so, so happy, it was such a tough race and has been such a tough week and I’m just so happy, it’s the best thing in the world. I just went out to sail as fast as I could and well done to the Chinese and Italian girls, that was really, really tough racing right until the end. I love my mum and dad so much, they have been so supportive and my boyfriend Greg. And my coach Dom [Tidey] is a legend!'
Shaw’s is Britain’s fifth sailing medal of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with Ben Ainslie (Finn) and Yngling trio Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson winning gold on Sunday, Paul Goodison taking the top Laser prize yesterday (Tuesday) and Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield clinching 470 men’s silver on Monday.
However, there was bitter disappointment for Nick Dempsey who started the day in silver medal position but agonisingly slipped to fourth overall in the men's event.
With Israeli Shahar Zubari trailing Dempsey by eight points going into the medal race, the Brit had to finish in the top four to guarantee more Olympic silverware, having grasped a dramatic last gasp bronze at Athens 2004.
But with Dempsey rounding the first mark in seventh and the course shortened to a one lap sprint, he had little time to claw himself further up the fleet and with Zubari taking race second, the Israeli snatched the bronze from Dempsey's clutches.
New Zealand's Tom Ashley won gold with 52 points overall, overnight leader Julien Bontemps (FRA) taking silver with 52 and Zubari bronze with 58. Dempsey finished the regatta with 60 points.
'With the race being as short as it was, it was always going to be a race to the windward mark and then pretty much a procession for the rest of the race,' Dempsey explained. 'I tried to get past but didn’t quite get the shift right and got punished.
'It’s not the end of the world – I’ve got lots of other great stuff going on,' he continued, referring to his impending wedding to gold medal-winning Yngling helm Sarah Ayton, 'and there’s always four years’ on my home waters in Weymouth so there’s a great incentive there.'