Nail-biting race rounds off successful games
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson have gold in the Star class on a thrilling final day of the Olympic Regatta today, leaving Britain’s sailors with their best Olympic medal haul for 100 years.
Sydney 2000 Finn gold medallist Percy and Simpson, making his Olympic debut, went into the race two points behind Swedes Freddie Loof and Anders Ekstrom but with one eye also on Brazilians Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada behind them in third.
In an absolute nail-biter, Percy and Simpson executed a tactically perfect race, the Swedes being forced to gybe on the first downwind run and the Brits edging their noses ahead, a position they refused to relinquish for the rest of the race.
Speaking immediately after the race, Percy, who also beat Loof to gold in Sydney, said: “It was unbelievable, so special. We felt good this morning, I knew we weren’t going to bottle it and we didn’t. It’s been a killer four years and I am so glad it’s behind me.”
Simpson added: “I’m shocked and over-the-moon. This week and this year have been so hard and there are no words to describe how happy we are. For the last year, everything has been focussed on this week, we’ve worked so hard and it is just amazing. We’ve pulled it back from the brink and it’s all come good for us.”
Percy and Simpson’s is Britain’s sixth sailing medal of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games with Ben Ainslie (Finn) and Yngling trio Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson winning gold on Sunday, Paul Goodison taking the top Laser prize on Tuesday, Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield clinching 470 men’s silver on Monday and windsurfer Bryony Shaw claiming bronze yesterday.
This surpasses the Brits’ medal total at the past two Games in Athens and Sydney where Britain won five medals apiece while the sailors’ feat in Qingdao mirrors the achievements of the British sailing team at the 1908 London Games.
It also means for the third successive Olympics, Britain finishes the Regatta as the World’s top performing sailing nation.
Meanwhile, Leigh McMillan and Will Howden have finished the Olympic Regatta in sixth overall after romping to medal race victory.
The pair went into the final medals’ showdown in ninth position knowing that a medal was out of their reach, but won the medal race anyway in breezy conditions.