Ainslie gold highlights sailing display
August 12, 2012 13:53 pm
London 2012 was always supposed to be Ben Ainslie's Olympics and he did not disappoint, becoming the most successful sailor in Games history.
The 35-year-old came into his fifth - and quite possibly final - Olympics with the weight of a host nation's expectations on his shoulders, with some labelling him Britain's greatest sailor since Lord Nelson.
Such comments may have been made in jest but the bookmakers were not messing around, making him overriding favourite for Finn gold.
Some priced his nearest rivals as far out as 10/1, although Jonas Hogh-Christensen was not even mentioned in that band of potential challengers.
The Dane, though, had clearly not read the script as he beat Ainslie in the first six races.
Gold had looked to be getting away from the home favourite until a controversial race seven after which Ainslie accused Hogh-Christensen of working in cohorts with a fellow sailor to get him punished.
"You don't want to make me angry," he said when he got off the water - and so it proved.
Ainslie rallied, drove forward and went onto win a fourth successive Olympic gold, replacing Hogh-Christensen's countryman Paul Elvstrom as the Games' most decorated sailor of all-time.
That was Great Britain's only gold medal on home waters.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson looked set for Star gold as the defending champions dominated throughout the regatta but slipped into silver-medal position in the final metres of the final race.
The 470 men and women classes also took silver after both were denied gold by classy Antipodean opponents in their respective medal races.
Nick Dempsey also took silver in the men's RS:X class, which was dominated from the outset by the Netherlands' imperious Dorian van Rijsselberge.
The lack of gold meant that Australia replaced Britain at the top of the sailing medal table after a period of dominance that stretched back to Sydney 12 years ago.
The hosts were the only nation competitive in every single class and have now secured at least five medals in each of the past four Games.
Furthermore, there is an abundance of talent coming through and set to shine in Rio de Janeiro - an Olympics in which they can expect more success, but perhaps not another Ainslie gold.
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