Crowds line streets for GB sailors

15 August 2012 / 19:15

Team GB's sailors have been given a thunderous welcome as hundreds of people lined the streets of Weymouth and Portland for an open-top bus parade.

The medallists, including the record-breaking Ben Ainslie, saluted the crowds as a convoy of police vehicles led the Team GB bus through the winding streets of Dorset - home to the sailing events at the Olympic Games.

Four-time gold medallist Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor of all time, said: "It's absolutely amazing being in front of a crowd like that. All the people out there supporting us made a huge difference."

London 2012 saw Ainslie, 35, win his fourth consecutive gold to add to the silver he won in his first Olympics as a 19-year-old in Atlanta in 1996.

The hard-fought gold on Weymouth's waters, when he battled from a losing position, confirmed his place in the record books - his total surpassing the four consecutive golds won by Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom.

The sportsman, who learned to sail at Restronguet in Cornwall, obliged the crowd by holding his fourth gold medal aloft.

He added: "This is the biggest and heaviest medal we've seen over the years. It has been in my pocket for the last week or so, and then eventually my mum and dad will look after it."

Luke Patience, who won silver with Stuart Bithell in the 470 at their first Olympic Games, said: "The warmth we felt from having a home Games was the most amazing experience. We had a great time for the whole two weeks. It has been very surreal.

"I hope that we, the athletes, can inspire a generation to try these sports. The public have been amazing, it's something we don't get to experience as much because we are out on the water.

"But everyone has flooded in, and to feel that really spurs you on during the harder moments."