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15 Apr 2010

470 Class Welcomes Olympic Gold Medallist

Sarah Ayton, double Olympic gold medallist and two-time World Champion, has confirmed that she will bid for a historic third gold medal on home waters in 2012 in the 470.

Ayton, one of the 'three blondes' who sailed to victory in the Yngling class at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Games, will aim to become the first British woman to win three successive Olympic gold medals when she returns to competitive action, ten months after giving birth to her first child.

Yesterday, Ayton, 30, confirmed she will sail in the two-person 470 class alongside Britain's most experienced 470 crew Saskia Clark - a World Championship medallist in 2005 and 2007 - with this much-anticipated announcement also boosted by the news that, in addition to the support received through the Skandia Team GBR British sailing team, their campaign will also be backed by Volvo Car UK as part of the Team Volvo for life sponsorship programme.

Ayton has considered carefully her decision to return to sailing - with the removal of the Yngling class in favour of women's match racing for 2012, she not only had to choose the right boat to sail in and crew to join her, but also balance the demands of being an elite athlete with being a mother to son Thomas.

"After thinking really hard about my campaign and experimenting with match racing, it was an easy decision in the end to choose the 470," Ayton explained.

"Teaming up with Saskia seemed the most natural route and we are already building up a strong understanding and can't wait to get started on our campaign.

"The next event is in Hyeres, where the conditions are going to really test us, but this first year is about building up the relationship and proving ourselves as a team."

Ayton's husband Nick Dempsey - the current RS:X windsurfing world champion - and fellow Skandia Team GBR sailors Ben Ainslie, Paul Goodison, Helena Lucas were also unveiled as Team Volvo for life members at a launch event in London on Wednesday.

More Information:

Source: RYA Skandia Team GBR

Images: top - Sarah Ayton and Saskia Clark, right -  Nick, Thomas and Sarah © RYA Skandia Team GBR