Thrilling gold lifts GB to new heights

Britain started the best, with two gold medal victories, and finished the best by making it three in a row as top Olympic sailing nation. And Team GB bagged its fourth sailing gold medal of the XXIXth Olympiad when Iain Percy finally nailed his second Olympic gold, this time with his great buddy Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, in the Star, two-man keelboat.

Back at the dock, the rest of the team, including the man who started the gold rush, Ben Ainslie, was there to greet them, and throw them in the water, along with Olympic manager Stephen Park, who has guided the whole operation.

Both Percy and Simpson, who have sailed with and against each other since they were seven, were understandably in exuberant mood with even the normally laconic Percy close to tears after a thrilling final race, one of the best in Olympic memory, in which fortunes swung hot and cold.

No more so than for the Swedish pair of Freddy Loof and Anders Ekstrom, who started the race in the gold medal position, finished it last of the 10 and not only conceded the gold but were pipped for the silver by Brazil's Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada on an equal points tie-breaker.

Scheidt's girlfriend, Gintare Volungeviciute of Lithuania also won silver in the Laser Radial.

"I don't know how many times the overall winner changed today, but we knew we could do it," said Percy. "This is the big one, this is the one that matters, so there was no fun and games. It's been like that all week, absolutely head down. We came here to do a job, we knew we could do it, we've known all along because I think we've got more talent onboard than anyone else, especially with this fellow next to me."

Percy paid full tribute to the contribution Simpson had made to the success. "This guy's been at the last two Olympics supporting me, giving up all his time for free. And he's done the same for Ben. To do it here with your best mate of 25 years means that, compared to the last medal, which was the most important moment of my life, it pales into insignificance. Just doing it with the big fellow here is everything."

Waking up to the wind and rain had been good. "We're Brits and we're built for that stuff. We just wanted to get out there," said Percy who added: "As for 2012, we'll be there, we'll be there."

The total haul of six exactly replicates the tally 100 years ago, when Britain also won four golds, a silver and a bronze, hosting the 1908 London Olympic Games sailing on the Solent. Then, though, Britain had more than one boat per class and so won more than one in a couple of classes.

The four golds, one silver, one bronze are a modern era record and edges even higher the success rate which brought five medals in both 2000 and 2004. "The secret is the people," said Park, always known as Sparky. "If you've got good people who are driven to win and you've got adequate funding to do it then there's no reason why you shouldn't succeed." Now, he added, it was time to get ourselves in our house, close the doors and let our hair down a little.

What might be the last time they are seen in an Olympic final was a nostalgic affair for the Tornado catamaran. They were introduced to the Olympic Games in 1976, when the boat's designer and builder, Reg White, won the gold medal.

As sailing was told it had to reduce its medal events from 11 to 10 for 2012 there was a massive political fight ahead of the decision to drop the catamaran. The decision was met around the world with a mixture of dismay and disdain and Britain's Royal Yachting Association has been one of those leading the fight to keep catamaran sailing in the Olympics.

The final decision will be made at the International Sailing Federation's annual general meeting in Madrid in November and one of the flanking moves would see the restoration of the 11th medal event.

The British duo of Leigh McMillan and Will Howden went into the medal race knowing that they had already blown their chances. An earlier 12th 13th and 14th had made that mathematically impossible. But they went out in style, winning handsomely in the blustery conditions and lifting themselves three places to a respectable, if still disappointing, sixth overall.

The Spanish, with Fernando Echavarri, who now moves on to skipper one of the movistar boats in the Volvo Ocean Race, and Anton Paz sailed carefully to give no chance to the Australian silver medallists Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby to spoil their party while the Argentinians, Santiago Lange and Carlos Espinosa were fortunate to hang on to the bronze when Germany's Johannes Polgar and Florian Spateholz were ahead but hit a lump of floating wood, smashed a rudder, and capsized.

The Tornados also featured the only mixed crew in the race, but Carolijn Brouwer and Sebastien Godefroid did not make the cut. Representing Brouwer's native Holland was the Spain-based Australian Mitch Booth. With Pim Nieuwhuis as crew, he came fifth.

Listen to Olympic competition manager Qu Chun tell Stuart Alexander of a big future for sailing in China

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform