Sailing: Robertson facing Athens bid battle

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The Independent Online

Shirley Robertson is well known for making things hard for herself and for being a bit of a comeback queen, and she will have to live up to that reputation if she is to obtain Olympic qualification in the world championships here.

This gathering of more than 1,500 athletes from 73 countriesalso serves as an Olympic team selection trial for many countries, including Great Britain.

Robertson, who has set her sights on qualifying for Athens in the three-woman keelboat, the Yngling, which will be making its Games debut, has to finish in the top eight of the 41-boat fleet for her name to be put forward to the British Olympic Association at the end of the regatta. A top-three place would make her selection automatic.

However, after four races, Robertson is lying 20th and she is not even the top-placed Briton. That belongs to Cathy Foster, who represented Britain in the 470 dinghy, with Pete Newlands, at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Robertson at least has history on her side, winning Olympic gold in Sydney sailing the singlehanded Europe. She won gold again at the pre-Olympic trial regatta in Athens last month, which was just the boost she and a re-organised crew of Sarah Webb and Sarah Ayton needed as they crossed to Spain for their world championship, one of 11 being contested.

The women managed two races in a 15-to-20-knot easterly wind known as the Levante yesterday, which then prevented the Star Class, where Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell defend their world title, from racing.

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