GB's shining stars: the sailors
Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson
Monday 18 August 2008
Sarah Ayton will ever be known to millions of non-sailing fans as one third of Team GB's gold medal winning Three Blondes in a Boat. But for her, China will always have extra-special memories.
This summer's games will be the warm-up for another major event of an altogether more personal kind – her marriage in October to the British Olympic windsurfer Nick Dempsey.
After a nine-year engagement, the couple bought their wedding rings separately on their way to the Games. They have been keeping in touch on the internet. Contending with each other's determination to succeed looks likely to be the next big hurdle.
Dempsey, who narrowly missed out on adding to the bronze medal he won at Athens, has admitted his fiancée's gold in the same class in 2004 was an inspiration and a challenge. "I thought, 'I can't go home without a medal, not when she's got a gold'," he said.
According to Dempsey, his wife-to-be, who began sailing at the age of six, can struggle to relax. "I can switch off from it. Sarah can't. It dominates every aspect of her mind. She cannot turn off. It's what she does. It's who she is. Her campaign is everything to her. That's a little bit difficult sometimes," he said.
For Sarah Webb, success yesterday comes after a near-catastrophic accident that could have ruled her out of the Games entirely. With just six weeks to go until the start, she slipped and smashed her face into a metal towing post as she helped move the Yngling boat. A lump the size of a tennis ball developed on the 31-year-old's face.
For the youngest member of the crew, Pippa Wilson, 22, victory was tinged with sadness. Even before setting off for Beijing she dedicated the campaign to her grandfather Tom Wilson, who died in April aged 90. "He was a huge inspiration to me, more than he ever knew," she said.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Michael Schumacher: Ferrari president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo admits he is still in shock over accident
Jose Mourinho claims Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team-mates spend too much time looking in the mirror
Is this the cutest pitch invasion ever? Brazil squad embrace young South African fan in heartwarming scenes after friendly match
Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez a World Cup doubt after suffering knee injury in Mexico's draw with Nigeria
World Cup 2014: So, who's on the plane to Brazil?
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'