Silver success while Goodison gold beckons
Monday 18 August 2008
Inspired by two gold medals the day before, Britain's sailing team had the bit between its teeth today as Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield came from behind to grab their second consecutive silver medal in the 470 dinghy class. In workmanlike mood, Team GB continued to crank up the pressure on the opposition.
This is a team that goes about its business quietly. There are no rah-rah locker room harangues, there is no personal phsycopressure. They have been on the same journey for all of the four years since 2004, when they bagged two golds, one silver, two bronze and eight years since 2000, when the haul was three golds and two silvers. If the force is with them they could top both years.
In the Laser singlehander, Paul Goodison "had a good day on the water today" and ended with a guaranteed bronze in tomorrow's medal race, a silver if he just sails round the course and is last, and any better than ninth out of 10 gives him the gold.
In the men's windsurfer , the medal race sees Nick Dempsey, fiancé of Yngling gold medallist Sarah Ayton, in second, just three points behind the leader, Tom Ashley of New Zealand, while in the women's division Bryony Shaw is in fourth, two points off the bronze medallist and nine behind the leader, Alessandra Sensini, gold medallist in Sydney, bronze in Athens.
Shaw, like Dempsey, is a fighter. They both have one final fleet race today before the medal sail-off on Wednsesday.
Ben Ainslie, after winning a third consecutive gold medal, was on hand to help trolley the boat back up the ramp as Rogers and Glanfield told of a day of intense pressure on which they were determined to stay calm.
They had distanced themselves from the previous night's celebrations in the team hotel reasoning: "We tried to stay as flat as possible and went out today saying that this isn't about emotion it is about making the right decisions."
At the start they were not in the strongest position as the top 10 who made the cut to the double points medal decider coped with a breeze that was trying to trick everybody.
Only the Australians, who already had the gold in the bag, were able to sail serenely out front from beginning to end in what was their 470 swansong. The British pair needed to beat the second-placed Dutch by three places and the third-placed French by two.
At the first mark they were next to last, the second sixth, the third, fourth and the finish third. The French were sixth, enough to hang on the bronze, and the Dutch seventh. Job done.
"This was the most intense race I have ever been involved in," said Rogers. "I'm so pleased. It's probably more sweet than Athens because we were in with a chance of gold going into that. Here, we had to claw back a medal. Today it's all elation. We are proud and relieved. We just got on with it."
In the women's division, Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark finished fourth in the medal race, which made them sixth overall, one place better for Bassadone than in Athens.
In the Star class, all the joking and flip humour for which he is known has been discarded by Iain Percy, gold medallist in the Finn in Sydney. His crew, Andrew 'Bart' Simpson stands silently by with about as much sympathy in his expression as a hired assassin.
They had a second and first yesterday and had only cautionary comments to make. "It was a bloody tricky day, we were fully concentrated and were quite stressed," said Percy. "I think we got away with it. We still need a day when we can hammer home the advantage which we feel we have in certain areas.
"We need to perform over the next three races big time. This regatta hasn't clicked at all. We haven't had any breaks, but I feel better now than I have at any time for two years," he said, adding: "We've got a long way to go and this is going right down to the wire. Everyone is going to charge right to the end."
In a move which saw the Olympian ideal triumph over regatta rules, and after many hours of deliberation, the Danes, Martin Ibsen and Jonas Warrer, were yesterday awarded the gold medal in the 49er performamce dinghy. They had been leading and needed only to finish the race when they went out for their medal race on Sunday.
But they were dismasted about 40 minutes before the start,, rushed ashore, arranged to borrow the Croatia team's boat and went out to complete the race. There was a query over whether this was within the rules and, despite the medals being awarded 24 hours later, the Spanish were still threatenting to lodge an official protest, as they were denied the gold.
But the German bronze medallists, brothers Hannes and Jan Peter Peckolt, said there was no way they wanted any similar action and the Spanish team of Iker Martnez and Xavier Fernandez, gold medallists in Athens, said they were not involved. Anything the Spanish federation did was down to the federation.
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