On top of the world; the performance of the British at the World Championships of Olympic Sailing has left their rivals gasping. The tally of two gold medals, a silver, and two bronze, added to being top nation at the Athens pre-Olympic regatta last month, "means we have had a good year," said the Olympic team manager, Stephen Park. "Our rivals in the boat park are asking 'how are we going to compete with the British machine?'."
There was elation yesterday as Leigh McMillan and Mark Bulkeley added a silver medal to the tally in the Tornado catamaran. They could not overcome Darren Bundock and John Forbes, who claimed their third consecutive world title and helped Australia become joint-runners-up with France.
However, there was disappointment for Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith, who slipped from the silver position in the 49er dinghy to finish fourth. It may spell the end, at 37, of Olympic campaigning for Brotherton, who has been doing it since 1988 and saw a medal slip away in the 470 dinghy at Barcelona in 1992.
The gold medal winners Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks have been selected for Athens next year, as has the windsurfer Nick Dempsey.
But the trials continue for others, including in the Laser class where Ben Ainslie won gold in 2000. The British pre-event favourite, Paul Goodison, finished a dismal 31st. "I cannot pinpoint exactly what went wrong," he said. "I will now take some time off to try and work out how to get myself back to my previous form."
In contrast, Christina Bassadone and Katherine Hopson were celebrating a personal best of fifth overall in the women's 470 dinghy. That meant Britain has qualified in all 11 events for Athens, though actually being chosen will depend, for some, on the selectors believing that they have genuine medal potential.
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