Olympics: 'Hardest week of my life,' says gold medal winner Ben Ainslie (From This is The West Country)
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Olympics: 'Hardest week of my life,' says gold medal winner Ben Ainslie
Ben Ainslie has described the London 2012 Olympics as the hardest week of his life.
The Falmouth sailor claimed his fourth Olympic Gold medal on Sunday as he beat Jonas Hogh Christensen in a crucial medal race.
The Dane had led for most of the series, but Ainslie battled back with great determination to claim gold.
Despite the Olympics being on home waters and going into the regatta as an overwhelming favourite, Ainslie said it had been a tough week.
“It’s been a really tough week as I had some amazing competition, especially from Jonas but this was the time for me to do it in front of a home crowd,” said Ainslie.
“This Olympics has been an amazing experience and I can tell you listening to a crowd like that makes a huge difference.
“After six races I was in a bit of trouble to be honest and I had to put it right. Thankfully I did that, and got it right when it counts in the medal race. I can’t believe it, it’s unbelievable.
“This race course is one of the hardest I’ve ever sailed on and against ships like that – I don’t think I want to do anything like that again!
“I won’t lie to you, it’s been incredibly hard. There’s a huge amount of pressure for people to perform with a home crowd. It’s definitely been the hardest week of my life and I haven’t slept much to be honest.”
With six races of the regatta completed, Ainslie was ten points behind Hoegh-Christensen but he came out fighting and won race seven to cling to the Dane’s coattails.
In race eight he finished third but afterwards alleged that Hoegh-Christensen and the Netherlands’ Pieter-Jan Postma had used underhand tricks to ensure Ainslie was penalised and lost ground.
That only served to stir the competitive beast in Ainslie however, and while he was leading the penultimate race of the regatta by a distance, he dropped back to knock Hoegh-Christensen down into third and ensure the medal race was winner takes all.
And in that situation there are none better than Ainslie. Marking the Dane all the way round, he finished the medal race in ninth with Hogh-Christensen in tenth and when Postma failed to finish in the top two, gold was Ainslie’s.
There was still plenty of drama as, with 300 metres remaining, Postma made a break for second but New Zealand’s Dan Slater – a close friend of Ainslie’s – held him at bay, ensuring the Brit finished level on 46 points with the Dane, but took gold virtue finishing higher on the day.
“I never dreamt of anything like this. Like all other kids I learnt to sail for fun. My parents down in Cornwall probably can’t believe what’s happened either,” added Ainslie.
“I’ve had a huge amount of support over the years from so many people, so I have to give my thanks to them.
“You can never say never. I’m not going to do a Steve Redgrave here but I’d be very surprised if you see me in Rio. This is the best way to leave on top – at a home Olympics, you’ll never beat that.”
- Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012