SAILING: British pair take silver medal

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The Independent Online
A glitch when adding up the opposition scores may have caused Britain's John Merricks and Ian Walker to snatch silver from the jaws of gold in the World 470 Championship in Brazil over the weekend. The pair, still thought to be one of Britain's strongest medal prospects for the Olympic Games in July, thought they had the top prize in the bag with enough good results from eight of the nine races.

Doing badly in that ninth race they peeled off and went home before the finish only to find that the Dutch brothers, Benny and Jan Kouwenhoven, had come through and scored enough to win.

Even then, if Merricks and Walker had been 16th or better they would have stepped up for gold. Instead they had to settle for silver by a margin of less than a point, though they were still five points ahead of the bronze medallists, Kenji Nakamura and Masato Takaki, of Japan.

A chastened pair were consoling themselves not just with the thought that it may be bad luck to go to the Games as world champions and favourites, but, more importantly, with the rock solid confidence that, in anything like a decent breeze of the kind they should be able to expect in Savannah they are the fastest in the world.

It was also a disappointing week for Britain's women. Although Bethan Raggatt and Sue Carr ended on an upbeat note as they notched up a fourth in their last race, they were still 20th overall.

A powerful performance by the reigning Olympic champion, Theresa Zabell, of Spain, saw her come powerfully from behind and add another world title to a trophy room groaning with medals and awards. Germany's Susanne Bauckholt and Nicola Birkner were second and third.

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