Olympic legend Ainslie backs Scott to follow in his wake in Rio

Olympic legend Ainslie backs Scott to follow in his wake in Rio

10 September 2015 / 09:37
Sir Ben Ainslie believes Giles Scott won't wilt under the pressure of expectation ahead of his Olympic debut in Rio.


The two-time world champion hasn't lost a regatta in two years and was among eight sailors named for next year's Games yesterday - the first confirmed members of Team GB's class of 2016.

Ainslie won four golds - three in the Finn class - between 2000 and 2012, success which delayed Scott's first Olympic appearance.

But the driving force behind Great Britain's America's Cup challenge, believes his record of British dominance on the ocean waves is in capable hands.

"Giles trained with me for the Beijing and the London Olympics, and was a very sharp contender in his own right for London," said Ainslie, one of many Olympians who were guests of honour at the glittering Team GB Ball at the Royal Opera House. 

"He’s an incredible talent. He’s also part of our America’s Cup team with BAR, and we’re supporting him hugely. He’s got everything he needs to win the gold medal next year; he’s hugely talented and he’s got a very level head on his shoulders. We’re backing him all the way."

British sailors have won 55 medals - including 26 golds - since sailing made its debut at the 1900 Games in Paris, with Team GB topping the overall Olympic sailing medal table.

Joining Scott in Rio will be Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills - 470 Olympic silver
medallists - and windsurfer Bryony Shaw, who won bronze in Beijing.

Luke Patience, who won silver alongside Stuart Bithell in Weymouth three years ago, will compete in the men's 470 alongside two-time world champion Elliot Willis.

Nick Thompson, the reigning Laser world champion, will make his Olympic debut while London 2012 Olympian Alison Young returns in the Laser Radial.

Selection for the men's and women's 49er, men's windsurfing and Nacra 17 - a mixed crew multihull which makes its debut in Rio - will continue under the watchful eye of British team boss Stephen Park.

"This team certainly have a chance of being successful," added Ainslie. 

"We’ve got some red hot favourites to win gold medals, so yes we have a very strong sailing squad, with good strength and depth. The only thing I would counter that with, is that talking about Rio, it’s a very difficult venue for sailing. There are a lot of strange currents and the conditions change a lot. 

"The guys as always are going to have to work very hard, spending a lot of time out there getting used to those conditions. But absolutely it’s a very strong squad."

And Ainslie - a Team GB ambassador - insists he was no regrets about calling time on his own Olympic career to focus on winning sport's oldest international trophy.

"I didn’t have to think about retiring twice," he added. 

"They often say you know when it’s the right time, and for me after London 2012, getting that home gold medal, it was obvious that was the right time. I’m very happy to be here in a supporting role.

"It’s been a huge challenge running my own sailing team, the last 18 months building the team up from nothing to where we are now. 

"I’m really proud of where we’ve got to so far, but a bit like this game we’ve got a long way to go, and we’ve got to keep our heads down and working hard."

© Sportsbeat 2015