Ainslie takes silver after multiple disqualification

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The Independent Online
Ben Ainslie, the 19-year old phenomenon of British Olympic sailing, won a silver medal yesterday while sitting on the sidelines. His fate was left in the hands of the Norwegian Peer Moberg, his dreams of ultimate glory dashed when he, Brazil's gold medallist Robert Scheidt and six others were disqualified from the final race.

Ainslie, Britain's youngest Olympic sailor as well as medallist, had been caught up in an aggressive attack on the twice world champion Scheidt in pre-start manoeuvres, terminated by the race officer. Then 56 competitors were recalled twice for going early, recalled again with a black flag and issued with a warning that anyone caught over the line would be instantly disqualified. At the fifth attempt, the axe fell.

Ainslie had seen the Brazilian pushed over the line for that first black flag start only to escape disqualification. Then Ainslie had been tempted over the line with him as he hounded and harried his man, Scheidt knowing that if they both went out he would have gold.

Up went the list of the nine disqualified boats, leaving Ainslie vulnerable to a win by the third-placed Moberg. But at the first mark Moberg was seventh, and still there at the second, and at the finish he had slipped down to 11th. Ainslie was safe.

After pulling back into the marina to sustained cheers from the rest of the British team, Ainslie said: "We had a really good battle before the start and I thought I was doing a good job. In the last start Scheidt deliberately went early. I had to go as well, because I knew if I gave him the start I probably wouldn't win the race so I had to go for it. I'm really happy with the silver, although in some ways a bit disappointed for it not to have been gold. I'll just have to go one better next time in Sydney."

Life was also hard on the match-race course where Andy Beadsworth, Barry Parkin and Adrian Stead took time to get into their stride in their quarter- final with Denmark's Stig Westergaard.

The 14-knot breeze was ideal for the Dane, who went into a 2-0 lead in the best of five, but Beadsworth is a marathon man. He pulled back to 2-2 and then came from behind on the second leg of the decider to overtake Westergaard downwind to earn a semi-final with the 1988 gold medallist, Jochen Schumann of Germany.

Russia's Georgi Shaiduko won the other quarter-final against Canada's Bill Abbott and meets the American Jeff Madrigali in the other semi.

Shirley Robertson came very close to securing a bronze in the Europe. The Scot needed to beat the American Courtney Becker-Dey by six places in their final race, but was third to Becker-Dey's sixth and finished fourth overall.

The gold went to Denmark's Kristine Roug, and the silver to Matilde Matthijsse of the Netherland's. Becker-Dey's bronze was the first sailing medal for the United States in a thin Games compared to the nine medals from 10 classes they won in Barcelona.

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