While Britain’s cycling golds have been taken by well-known athletes in the past few days – Jason Kenny, Laura Trott and Sir Bradley Wiggins all won their events in London – Team GB’s first sailing gold yesterday framed a far less familiar face.
That Giles Scott, who totally obliterated the competition to win the Finn class, was not already a household name tells you something about the cruel peculiarities of Olympic competition, where countries have limited spaces and talent alone isn’t always enough to qualify.
“That Giles Scott was not already a household name tells you something about the cruel peculiarities of Olympic competition, where talent alone isn’t always enough to qualify”
Despite being one of the fastest Finn sailors in the world and having just won the 2011 World Championships, Scott was denied the chance to compete at London 2012 when Britain’s only Finn slot was claimed by Ben (now Sir Ben) Ainslie.
The selection of the older, better-known sailor was controversial at the time – some believed that Giles Scott was in fact a better bet. In the end Ainslie took gold, but the experience left Scott even more hungry this time around.
His primal scream of emotion when he crossed the finish line in race 10 of the regatta, making it mathematically impossible for his competitors to catch him, showed just how important the medal was to him.