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Friday, August 19, 2016

Silver Lining for Aussie Sailors In Rio - 2016 Olympics

Today Australia won two Olympic medals on Guanabara Bay. Mat Belcher and Will Ryan won the silver medal in the 470 class followed by Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen who also won the silver medal in the 49er class. The medal racing was held on the Pao de Acucar course with a crowd of spectators cheering from Flamengo Beach.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
Will Ryan spent a few perilous seconds in the drink at Rio’s Guanabara Bay but he and Matt Belcher recovered almost seamlessly to avoid disaster and claim a silver medal in the 470 class.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
Belcher, guaranteed a bronze going into the medal race, couldn’t quite retain the title he won in London four years ago with Malcolm Page. But he and new partner Ryan helped cap off an Olympic regatta, which netted Australia’s sailors one gold medal and three silver.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“I just slipped and fell straight in. Fortunately Matt pulled me back out of the water one-handed pretty quickly and got me back into the boat and back into the race.” said Ryan of the incident approaching the third mark.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
For once in Olympic competition all of the action was at the rear of the field, with the medals ultimately going to the boats that finished in the last three places in the 10-nation final race. Croatia finished eighth to claim gold, Australia ninth for silver and Greece 10th for bronze.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
The Aussies, trailing Croatia by 13 points and Greece by two before the double-points final race, needed to be seven boats clear of Croatia to win an unlikely gold, or one boat ahead of Greece for the silver.The jockeying between the three leading boats meant that all eyes were at the rear.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“We had two goals.To try to win the race if we had the opportunity or to control the Greek boat. It didn’t really matter where we finished – we just had to be in front of Greece.It was quite entertaining at the back. When it became clear Croatia was in front (of us) we changed our strategy out on the water,” Belcher said.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
The first thing he did on finishing was to race to the beach to see his two kids for the first time in a month.The 33-year-old said the commitment to an Olympics was so great that he would take time out to decide whether to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“We came here to win but to take silver was great.We fought in good Aussie spirit and we can hold our heads high,” Belcher said.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“It’s hard to be disappointed with silver but the hunger is still there for more,” Ryan added.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
Defending Olympic champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen closed their 2016 campaign on a high by outsailing Germany in a nerve-wracking final race to claim silver in the 49er class. With the gold already sewn up by New Zealand, the Aussies started the day in third place three points behind Germany.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
To win silver they needed to finish two places ahead of Germany in the medal race, worth double points, and they achieved their goal by crossing the line fourth with the Germans back in eighth.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
They also needed to stave off any challenge from Britain, 10 points behind them, or they might have surrendered a medal altogether.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“If we weren’t at the top of our game they would have passed us. It was stressful but we held our nerve.We had to keep passing boats and we kept our heads and did that, and kept the race in our control.There was always that thought in our heads that it could slip out of our control,” said Outteridge.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
A good start was the key for the 30-year-old from Newcastle, who said: “To be ahead of the two guys we needed to beat relaxed the nerves a bit.”
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
He said he felt more pressure as defending champion than he did going into the London 2012 Games.
Photo: © Sailing Energy / World Sailing
“We’ve managed that pressure and fought hard the whole week,” he said.

Doug Conway

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