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18 Aug 2008

Australia Wins Medal Race To Take Men's 470 Gold In Style

Image: © Clive Mason/Getty Images

Australian's Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE won today's Men's 470 Medal Race to take the gold medal in style, whilst Great Britain won its third medal of the Olympic Sailing Competition with a silver.

Nathan WILMOT and  Malcolm PAGE (AUS) had already secured the gold medal after pulling out an unassailable 22-point lead following the final three races of the Men’s 470 Opening Series on Saturday. However that did nothing to dull their competitive edge today as they led around the course to win the Medal Race and with it Australia’s first medal in sailing since the Sydney Games.

The Aussie team came to Qingdao with “unfinished business” after going to Athens four years ago as one of the hot favourites but returning empty-handed. Earlier this year, WILMOT and PAGE announced the Beijing Games would be their last in the 470 and over the past eight days they have proven they are retiring from the class as true world beaters. During a glittering career they have won three World Championships and titles at every major regatta in Europe and Australia along with countless other medals. An Olympic gold medal was the one item missing from their extensive collection. "We waited a long time for this medal. All the efforts that we put in finally paid off and we got what we waited for," said PAGE.

The Australians built their 22-point buffer with a consistent series that none of the other teams in the 470 fleet could match. The Medal Race was actually the only race of the regatta in which they recorded a victory. "We sailed stable and conservatively throughout this regatta and we tried to stay in single digit numbers," explained WILMOT. "Today we were pretty relaxed and we were joking around. We saw all the boats behind us at one point and we thought to ourselve, 'We might as well win our only Olympic Medal Race.'"

Behind the Aussies, the battle was on for the other medal positions with just five points covering the teams of Sven COSTER and Kalle COSTER (NED), Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET (FRA) and Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD (GBR) in second, third and fourth places respectively.

The French got off to the best start and followed the Aussies around the top mark in second place, a position which would have given them the silver medal. Britain were back in ninth, with the Dutch trailing well behind in tenth. The Brits had won the silver medal in Athens four years ago and appeared to be rising to the occasion once again as they pulled through the fleet on the next two legs. In contrast the French were struggling and began to slip back up the second upwind. Heading down the final run the Brits were in fourth and crucially by now had the Italians positioned between them and the French. With the Dutch out of the running in ninth, the Brits were in the silver medal position, but if the French could get ahead of the Italians is would be all change again.

ROGERS and GLANFIELD took measures into the own hands as they sped downwind on the final run, overhauling the Spanish boat ahead of them to finish in third place. CHARBONNIER and BAUSSET came in sixth just managing to hold off a late charge from the COSTER brothers which would have seen the Dutch leapfrog them into third. Silver went to Great Britain and France won their second bronze of the Olympic Sailing Competition. 

Overall Results - click here

Source: ISAF / Olympic News Service.