Four-time gold medallist Ben Ainslie calls time on Olympic career

 

Four-time Olympic sailing gold medallist Ben Ainslie has announced he will not compete at Rio 2016.

Ainslie, 35, has decided to call time on his glittering Olympic career to focus on his America's Cup campaign.

Ainslie won the Finn class at London 2012 - his fourth gold medal in his fifth Games - but will not defend that title in Rio.

"It fills me with both relief and sadness to write these words but I can now officially confirm that I have donned my Team GB tracksuit for the last time," Ainslie told the Daily Telegraph.

"No more Olympic villages. No more opening or closing ceremonies. After almost 20 years entirely dedicated to the pursuit of gold, taking in five Olympic campaigns, I have decided I will not attempt a sixth at Rio de Janeiro in 2016."

Ainslie won silver at his first Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 in the Laser class and took Laser gold in Sydney four years later. He then moved to the Finn class taking gold in Athens, Beijing and London.

Ainslie did not announce his Olympic retirement immediately after winning in Weymouth. Instead he waited for the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) conference in Dublin to find out which classes would be on the Olympic programme for Rio.

He admits that had the Star two-handed dinghy been reinstated he might have considered "giving that a go" but it was not.

"Because of the wear and tear of a lifetime spent sailing, particularly on my back, which was a real issue this summer, it was always going to be an uphill struggle to do the Finn again in Brazil," he said.

Ainslie will now concentrate on an America's Cup World Series campaign with JP Morgan BAR.

"I feel increasingly confident that we can one day challenge for the America's Cup proper. Not at next year's event in San Francisco - that will be too soon - but perhaps the one after that."

Royal Yachting Association performance director John Derbyshire paid tribute to Ainslie.

"The word 'legend' is often over-used in sport, but Ben really is one - a determined yet unassuming, modest, often under-recognised legend in this nation's sporting history.

"He has been a talismanic figure in the RYA's Olympic programme for over 16 years, through his successes inspiring new waves of sailors to get involved in the sport, and passing on his tireless work ethic and campaign skills to other young talents, who will look to follow in his footsteps and take on the challenge of keeping GBR a leading light in Olympic sailing in the years to come.

"Ben has always made it clear that his two career goals have been to win Olympic gold, and to win the America's Cup. With four Olympic golds and a silver across five Games, and now the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, he has nothing left to prove in Olympic terms and there can be no question that he's more than achieved his first goal.

"It's therefore entirely understandable that he should now want to turn his attentions to the second, and hopefully lead a British team to win the oldest trophy in sport for the very first time."

RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park said: "From our side, the door is always open for Ben to return if he feels that gold in Rio is a viable prospect, but we wish him every success with JPMorgan Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) and his uncompromising focus on an America's Cup-winning campaign.

"I know we will continue to keep in close contact with Ben, who is keen to help and support the Olympic programme and talented youngsters coming through in whatever way he can."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power