Ainslie plays down favourite tag

24 July 2012 / 15:26

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie is frustrated by those expecting him to romp to victory this summer.

The 35-year-old is the undoubted star of Great Britain's sailing team and gearing up for a fifth successive Games.

Ainslie already boasts three gold medals and a silver from previous Olympics and is expected by many to add to that haul on the home waters of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour.

That level of expectation is epitomised by the bookmakers who make him odds-on favourite to win the Finn class, with some pricing his nearest rivals as far out as 10/1.

"It is absolutely not that clear cut," Ainslie said.

"It is a bit of a frustration for me personally that people may be saying 'you're the favourite' for the Olympics. The standard of the event is really so much higher [than before].

"All of these sailors out there have spent four years of their lives trying to get to a peak performance for the Olympics. In the Finn class, there are 10 or 12 guys that on their day can go out and be a threat and win races. So it is going to be really tough. I am under no illusions."

Ainslie heads into the Games as reigning world champion, having won the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth time in May. He has, though, endured a tumultuous year that saw him suffer a serious back injury and capsize in the medal race of the pre-Games Sail for Gold regatta.

The sticking point of that period was Ainslie's disqualification from the 2011 World Championships in Australia after a confrontation with a television boat.

"What happened in Perth was a bit of an isolated incident and it was very unfortunate," he said. "My experience of the Olympics is that it is very, very unlikely that a situation like that would occur again. I can assure you if it did, I would be staying in my own boat this time."