Windsurfing, Kitesurfing & Sailing

Sailing at the Olympics | Giles Scott Wins Gold for Team GB After Missing London 2012

It was a medal laden with more emotion than usual

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.

Giles Scott is overcome with emotion...
...and roars his appreciation as he realises the gold is finally his.

And although yesterday’s final race was effectively a well-deserved victory parade for the man from Huntingdon, he still gave it some, finishing in second place. This put him a full 32 points ahead of his nearest rival in the final reckoning, in a sport when medals are usually decided by far smaller margins. By way of contrast, Ben Ainslie’s London gold came down to the wire, with both him and the eventual silver medallist finishing tied on 46 points, with only their race positions separating them.

Giles Scott cruises across the line in second in the medal race, the gold medal already in the bag. Photo: screenshot

Giles Scott on the other hand, had looked pretty much unassailable all week. Aside from an uncharacteristic miscalculation in the first race saw him finish 17th he was all but untouchable, winning three races outright and finishing second in three more.

Having finally been allowed to make his mark on the Olympics, the talented sailor did it in emphatic style. While he’s off to join Ainslie’s team in the America’s Cup in the coming months, we’re sincerely hoping he’ll be back in the Finn in four years time.

Elsewhere in the Olympic sailing regatta there was good news for Nick Dempsey, the veteran windsurfer who won another silver medal to add to his silver from London 2012 and his bronze from Beijing. And there will be more gold for Team GB later this afternoon provided Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark finish their final 470 race. The pair have built up an unassailable lead in the double-handed dinghy class over the past week.

Read more from the Olympic Issue here  or follow the latest Olympic news here.

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