470 gold medals for Australia and Great Britain |
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic sailing competition concluded with two medal races among the 470 men and 470 women.
The 470 becoming a mixed event for Paris 2024, it was today the last time that these partnerships ran side by side in the same boat.
The 8-10 knot wind conditions created tough cardiovascular competition combined with close-quarters tactics and precise handling of the boat.
Men’s two-seater sailing dinghy – 470
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) won gold in men’s 470, Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) silver and Jordi Xammar and Nico Rodriguez (ESP) bronze.
From the start, it was even between the main contenders for silver and bronze – Spain and Sweden. Both teams got off to good starts in light wind conditions, with the crews working hard to propel the boat through the waves using kinetic rebounds.
Australia had started on the port tack, slipping behind the fleet so as not to disrupt the competition for silver and bronze, but towards the top of the course Belcher and Ryan were back in contention for the lead, with New Zealand now defying Spain.
Coming from the left side of the course and arriving at the first mark just ahead, Sweden was neck and neck with Australia, Spain in third. Dahlberg and Bergstrom were on their way to the silver medal if they could hold onto the lead.
Australia pumped, whispered and surfed in a narrow lead around the Leeward Gate, and now the top four in the race were the top four overall: Australia, Sweden, Spain and Nova -Zeeland, front line to the last windward mark.
Belcher and Ryan won the Medal Race, their last race together, the perfect conclusion to a stellar partnership. Sweden crossed in second and won silver. The United States and New Zealand had passed Spain, but Xammar and Rodriguez clung to bronze just two points behind the Kiwis.
Belcher is the all-time best sailor on 470 as he retires from the class, with today’s gold to add to his London 2012 gold and Rio 2016 silver. won eight world titles, including five with Ryan.
“It was an amazing trip,” said Belcher, “and a great honor to run alongside this guy,” he added, gesturing towards Ryan.
“It was a great partnership, and it took five years just to step one step closer to the podium and realize this dream together.”
Ryan commented, “In the last nine years since we’ve teamed up, there’s been a lot of hard work together, but also a lot of fun. And really proud of how we’ve come every step of the way. “
Women’s two-seater sailing dinghy – 470
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) won gold in 470 Women, Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Ogar (POL) won silver and Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) bronze.
At the start, the fleet set off on starboard with the exception of Poland and France on port tack, the two boats escaping early to the right.
Britain turned towards the other two boats and was in the lead, Mills and McIntyre occasionally putting close cover on Lecointre and Retornaz to prevent the French from breaking through to the front of the fleet. Other teams have entered the race for the lead, with Switzerland and Germany going fast.
Around the first mark, Switzerland was in the lead, Great Britain in second, France in sixth, one place ahead of Poland. In the next round, Poland moved up to fourth place, two places ahead of France and they were now level on points. However, the Polish team fell back again and were bronze.
On the last downwind leg, the Swiss held the lead while Great Britain was second, but around the mark for the final turn Great Britain were passed by Germany, Israel and Poland.
Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler (SUI) won the Medal Race, taking fourth place overall. Next come Germany, Israel and Poland, followed by Great Britain in fifth place. This put Poland back on a level playing field with France, giving France silver and bronze.
The gold medal celebrations did not last long on the British boat as soon after the arrival the jury was informed that France was protesting against Britain. The protest was heard ashore and the case was closed. The medal ceremony had been a brief delay, but Britain could finally celebrate gold.
Along with London 2012 silver and Rio 2016 gold, gold in Tokyo makes Mills the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. McIntyre’s gold matches the feat of his father Mike McIntyre who won Star keelboat gold for Great Britain in 1988. Lecointre reiterates his Rio 2016 bronze.
“It’s been a tough regatta all week, and I haven’t had much time to think about celebrating the win yet. We were so focused on running our best race in what was probably my last time in 470, ”said Mills, who is retiring from Olympic competition. McIntyre said his main emotion was relief. “Relief that we came and accomplished what we set out to do, and to share the podium with these two incredible teams. “
For full results see: https://tokyo2020.sailing.org/results-centre
– Andy Rice / World Sailing